Not many would call “Cars” a Pixar classic, but I found it to be delightful. The sequel wasn’t as fresh as the original, but it had its moments. And now, we have “Cars 3,” which is the best since the original, maybe even better.

The movie begins with a new Pixar short “Lou,” which is named out of the Lost and Found box. The “L,” “O,” and “U.” All the lost items splice to form a character. The coat is the body, the two baseballs are the eyes, and the baseball gloves and slinky form the arms. A child bully takes everyone’s toys, and he ends up redeeming himself, thanks to Lou. Just as you worry it might go in the wrong direction, it doesn’t. It’s actually touching and inventive.

Now on to “Cars 3.” The racing champ-now-turned-true-hero Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is now facing some new competition. It’s a younger, updated, and more arrogant racer named Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer). In fact, he among the many young, more advanced race cars to force the older models to either retire or get fired to make room.

McQueen ends up in an accident, and months later, he decides to change his training. So he travels to a training center with all the new equipment the youngsters are using. His trainer is Cruz Ramirez (voiced Cristela Alonzo), a would-be racer, who uses her tools and dialogue to train him.

“Cars 3” does not top “Toy Story 3,” but it does offer more heart and innovation than the second. You get such fine voice work from Wilson, Cristela, Hammer, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, and even unused dialogue from the late great Paul Newman as the late great Doc Hudson.

An example of how inventive this movie is is the demolition racing scene, when Lightning McQueen and Cruz are trapped in a fire pit with wrecked cars and a vicious school bus (voiced by Lea DeLaria). Usually these things can be a bit cantankerous, but this one actually entertained me.

It’s also strong in the way it represents generations of racers, wasted potential, goals and ambitions, and you really feel something for the characters. That and you also are amazed at the beautiful scenery, such as the beaches, the woods, the dirt, and the water. As visually stunning as it is, you’re more touched by its true intentions.

😀😀😀😀1/2

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