Friday, June 16, 2017

Disney Pixar's 'Cars 3' Is On The Right Track

By Darlene Donloe

Fans of the Cars (2006) franchise will not be disappointed with the latest installment, Cars 3, set for nationwide release today, Friday, June 16.

The Disney Pixar animated film puts it in high gear this time with a story about a new generation of fast cars that challenges the prowess and ability of the legendary Lighting McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson.

Some of the faster cars would like to put McQueen out to pasture. But McQueen is not having it. He turns to Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), an eager young technician to help him get in shape and find his mojo. Ramirez has her own plans for winning. McQueen also enlists the help of others, ultimately reuniting the old car crew. 

This time the cars take on more human features.

Cars 3 is directed by Brian Fee and stars Kerry Washington, Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Michael Wallis, Larry The Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin and Lea DeLaria.

I recently caught up with Kerry Washington (KW), Cristela Alonzo (CA) and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (IWJ) to talk about the movie.  Washington plays television personality Natalie Certain, Alonzo plays race car driver Cruz Ramirez and Whitlock plays legendary race car driver River Scott.


Q:  Kerry, this movie features some strong women.

KW: I’m happy to be a part of a franchise like this one. I think it’s fun to see women who are brave, smart, courageous and teachable.  Sometimes you have to be humble enough to learn lessons. To have heart and passion is the most important thing.

Q: What about you Cristela? Your feelings about the role women play in the film?

CA:  We tried to forget about gender, it’s about having skills.  We don’t refer to my character as a female driver. We reference that she’s good. It’s a great way to talk about female empowerment. We’re all the same. We don’t care about gender. The best will win.

Q: Kerry, a lot of people need and have mentors.  Do you?

KW:  Yes, Shonda Rhimes. Even though she’s my boss on Scandal, she’s also a friend. I look up to her as a leader, mom and citizen of the world. She’s pretty badass.

Q: Kerry, will you watch this with your kid?

KW: I watched it with my kid and my mother. It was exclusively with women. The movie resonated with all of us. It embraces everybody’s heart. It’s exciting to be a part of this.

Cristela Alonzo

Q: Cristela what is the movie’s message?

CA:  It’s a good thing to tell kids that they matter. Sometimes as parents and grownups we get too busy surviving. It’s nice to have a dream and actually achieve it.  This isn’t about boys vs. girls. I want poor kids to know they can do it. We don’t have enough female characters where they succeed.  This is a story about hope. My mom did a good job of having me enjoy life. I like to wake up and feel grateful for everything I have.

Q: Kerry, this movie has a lot of lessons for kids.

KW: A lot of people feel like outsiders. No matter what it looks like to you, it will resonate with all people. It’s not about the girl winning – they win together. If we work together there is room for everyone at the table.

Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Q: Isiah, what was the pitch that got you to participate in this movie?

IWJ:  The Wendell Scott aspect got me. They came to me with what they wanted me to do. When they said Wendell’s name I was in.

(Wendell Oliver Scott was the first African-American driver in NASCAR, and the first African-American to win a race in the Grand National Series, NASCAR's highest level.)

Wendell Oliver Scott

Q: You’re voicing a rather important person in the film.

IWJ:  I really feel we need to pay attention to the pioneers who came before us to see how we got to where we are today.  Scott didn’t have sponsors and equipment. He had so many obstacles, but he was able to persevere. In Cars 3 we deal with the passion and heart of racing.

Q:  The cars in this movie take on more human features this time.

IWJ:  I’m always amazed at how they cross the line and humanize the movie. I’d forget that they are cars. It’s fascinating how they are able to do that.  

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