If you want a measure of how much Disney I grew up on, let’s just say that I’m a pretty formidable opponent in a Heads Up: Disney challenge. My mother still likes to talk about how I was barely a year old and could already put in the VCR of Snow White on my own every afternoon, as well as how I’d scream and laugh at the same exact moments of the movie, every single time. As I grew older, that feeling of being immersed in a Disney Pixar movie hasn’t exactly changed, but it’s sort of shifted, without me being aware of it.
Recently, I managed to find the time to catch Cars 3 in the cinemas, before it disappeared forever. I still have fond memories of watching the first one, even though it was a movie that kind of had to grow on me. The second one was funny, but a lot less memorable, in my opinion (I like Mater, but it was a little difficult trying to visualize him as a main character). And I initially disliked Lightning McQueen; he was arrogant and bull-headed and full of himself (it reminded me too much of me, if I’m being honest). However, I loved his redemption arc; filled with golden nuggets of humour and simple optimism with Doc Hudson as his mentor, and Mater is a delight as a best friend.
Nevertheless, while I truly did enjoy Cars 3 (I’m sure the ten other young adults that were watching it at six on a Monday evening liked it too, judging from the laughter), there were a few things that really stuck out to me.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
Getting the hidden jokes and euphemisms
Disney Pixar movies are absolutely known for their simplistic yet wonderful humour that anybody can laugh along at, but sometimes, there are some things that just go over a kid’s head, but if you’re quick enough as an adult, you’ll probably get it. When Lightning says, “Life’s a beach, sometimes you just gotta drive,” it took me a second to realise the double-entendre. It’s a cheeky nod to the young adults who remember the first time they watched Cars on screen; it’s almost like Lightning had grown along with us, silly as it sounds. And that leads us to the second point.
The nostalgia pangs are real
When Lightning reminisces his younger days of training with Doc Hudson, when it comes full circle to him training Cruz Ramirez; it honestly drove home the point that everyone grows up at some point. We all remember being Cruz when she gave up her only chance to be a racer; perhaps we are Cruz right now, handed a second chance by our own Lightning McQueen. While we may not be Lightning McQueen just yet, on the wrong side of youth and still making the best of it, that moment will come for us. Nobody is truly Peter Pan, and nobody should ever be.
Stuck between being hopeful and being fearful
Not gonna lie, at one point I wondered if they were really going to make Lightning race all the way to the end. And while that would have been great, it was also way too idealistic to believe (considering the movie revolves around animated sentient vehicles, that’s saying something). Sure, you probably saw it coming a mile away. I sensed the twist coming, but when it did, I wasn’t filled with a satisfaction for having called it. Instead, I wondered if I’d ever continue to be as hopeful as I am whenever I do something for the first time on my own as I grow steadily older. My first day of secondary school, my first part-time job, my first class at university, my first job in my adulthood; all of those days were filled with an equal sense of fear of failure, as well a sense of hope that things were going to turn okay.
There’s a bit of Cruz in all of us; optimistic and terrified all at the same time. But, there are things that we’re good at, that we excel at as well. Things we share with Lightning’s confidence in racing. It’s just a question of combining all of that traits together and driving down the beach that is life, engines revving and spirits high. It’s not easy, of course. It’ll take more than a two-hour movie to find your pace. But honestly, it’s not all about how you start, but what you make of your ride in life. And I intend to make mine a great one.