The talking cars that populate a post-apocalyptic wasteland devoid of human life are back for Cars 3, a movie in which beloved racing champ Lightning McQueen is aged and borderline decrepit, and irreparably injured in a terrifying crash. Bested by the faster, younger newcomer Jackson Storm—why do all these car names sound like meteorologists?—Lightning has to retreat to recover, and train to make his comeback against a new generation of tech-savvy cars. He struggles with the new-fangled inventions and contraptions, eventually rejecting them in favor of driving up and down a beach. (Who is building all this sh*t? Cars don’t have hands, so who is building and maintaining their world? Robot slaves, right? Somewhere they’ve got Wall-E chained to an assembly line.)
The message of Cars 3 is clear, and it is a brutal but necessary truth children must learn: Eventually, everyone you love grows old and dies, and also, you are here to replace your parents, whom you will soon outstrip, growing up in a world of technology and augmented/virtual reality they will not comprehend. YOU are the future, your parents: The past. Leave them behind, children, for they are slow and uncomprehending. Send them to the beach—or an ice floe—and ascend to your rightful place atop the evolutionary chart. At least until you have kids, who will in turn replace you, as you, yourself, will one day wither and die, too.
Parents often look to these movies for relief, a two-hour diversion in which their kids are quiet (I have been to Pixar screenings—I debate their definition of “quiet”). And sure, for a couple of hours, your kids are relatively still and “quiet”, transfixed by whatever charming thing Pixar is beaming into their eyeballs. But what about the existential nightmares they have later? Where’s the relief from that? Also it’s weird that a computer animation movie studio made a movie with an apparently anti-technology message.