Story

This third movie in the Cars series is about Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a winning racing car who begins to lose his races and his fame to a newer, faster car named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). McQueen has one last race to prove to his new manager Sterling (Nathan Fillion) that he still has what it takes to compete. Otherwise his racing career might be finished for good.

If McQueen wants any chance of staying in the race, he must learn to work with his new trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a female race car trainer with a dream. Together they discover a new way of racing that might not be all about speed. 

Themes

Retirement; ageing; sexism; ageism

Violence

Cars 3 has some violence. For example:

  • During the final race Jackson Strom deliberately crashes into Cruz and slams her into a wall.
  • McQueen and Cruz accidentally participate in a demolition derby, where cars deliberately try to hit each other. One school bus has chains, fire and saws.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Cars 3 has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • There are some crashes during the races with sparks, fire and explosions, and some cars get damaged. There is one intense crash where McQueen gets hurt but he recovers fully.
  • McQueen crashes while using the training simulator, but he’s fine.

From 5-8
Younger children in this age group might be scared or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Nothing of concern

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Cars 3 includes a scene in which Sally and McQueen say ‘I love you’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Cars 3 shows some use of substances. For example:

  • There’s a brief mention of ‘moonshine’.
  • McQueen and Cruz go into a saloon bar where cars are ‘drinking oil’.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Cars 3:

  • types of cars like Porsche and Volkswagen
  • other brands – for example, tyre brands like Lightyear.

Cars 3 is part of the Disney Cars franchise so there’s likely to be plenty of associated merchandise marketed to young children.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including some mild teasing and name-calling between the cars.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Cars 3 is an enjoyable and uplifting movie about learning to accept help from others and having the courage to try something new.

Lightning’s problems with a new and faster opponent highlight the inevitable situation of anyone who’s growing older, which is likely to be appreciated by adult viewers. The movie also has a message about female empowerment, when Cruz, a female car, follows her dream to become a racer despite other cars telling her she shouldn’t.

Some scenes might make Cars 3 too scary for children aged under 5 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 5-8 years. Most children aged 8 years and over are likely to enjoy this movie.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery and helping others. This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of having mentors and role models and also being a good role model for younger children.