Review of reviews: Art & Film
Directed by Brian Fee (G)
An aging racer faces new hurdles.
“The good news is that Cars 3 is better than Cars 2,” said Christopher Orr in The Atlantic. “The bad news is that by Pixar standards, it’s still not good.” An “exceptionally” familiar story about a has-been attempting a comeback, the franchise’s third installment at least puts the spotlight back on Lightning McQueen, a talking red race car voiced by Owen Wilson. But though the visuals are superb, the movie lacks the emotional impact of Pixar classics like Toy Story; it feels built to sustain the franchise’s rich merchandise sales. Still, the movie’s four-wheeled stars are “about as likable as can be,” said Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times. After Lightning crashes while trying to keep up with a new breed of supercars, he teams up with a new mentor (Chris Cooper) and a spunky trainer (Cristela Alonzo) who help him chase one last shot at glory. The ensuing story is both “breezy fun” and “a pain-free life-lesson delivery vehicle,” said Glenn Kenny in The New York Times. Because Lightning eventually realizes that his trainer belongs on a track more than he does, Cars 3 offers “a quiet but ultimately forceful” case against sexism and for the joys of mentorship.
Directed by Lucia Aniello (R)
A bachelorette party goes off the rails.
“One day Kate McKinnon will get the movie her considerable talents deserve,” said Brian Truitt in USA Today. The SNL star is “the best thing by far” in this derivative raunch comedy directed by Broad City writer Lucia Aniello. McKinnon plays one of five friends that Scarlett Johansson’s Jess invites to Miami for a bachelorette weekend, but after a wild start leaves a male stripper dead, the “flimsy characters” and only “fitfully funny” plot nearly kill the party. Though not all of Rough Night’s lowbrow jokes land, “when they do, they really do,” and co-stars Ilana Glazer, Jillian Bell, and Zoë Kravitz “all get a chance to shine,” said Stephanie Merry in The Washington Post. There are also “sight gags aplenty, cleverly shot for maximum shock and humor,” and Rough Night “ultimately builds to a satisfyingly ludicrous conclusion.” Until then, it’s “good one minute, weak or stilted or wince-y the next,” and hampered throughout by “seriously uneven pacing,” said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. That said, Rough Night is “a somewhat better low comedy” than even The Hangover—the 2009 hit that launched the current gross-out-comedy wave. ■