I cried all the way through Cars 3. And then I came home and cried some more. My husband looked at me like I was crazy, so I decided to try to put all the feelings into words.
I'm sure I'm not the only one whose son is a Lightning McQueen fanatic. We've been fans of his for over two years now, and frankly, I couldn't be happier. In fact, I'd say they were the happiest few years of my life. Now I am not saying it is because of Lightning McQueen, but I don't think I'll ever be able to separate my fondness for these years from Lightning McQueen. And that's the reason Cars 3 hit me right in the gut: he represents something to me.
My husband and I frequently discuss our favorite Pixar movies. His are Wall-E, Up, and Ratatouille (the worst ones, in my opinion, but by that I don't mean bad!) Mine had been Brave and The Incredibles. But then my son, David, made me watch Cars over and over and over again. And something changed. After watching it the tenth time, I really enjoyed it. After the fiftieth time, I loved it. And after the one hundredth time, it became my favorite Pixar (and probably kids' movie) of all time! How often do you hear of that happening?
The themes of Cars and Cars 3 are both very poignant and moving. The ends of both are sweet and surprising. Not perhaps how you want them to end upon first watch, but better when you realize the message that is being sent. (And I'm not a hater of Cars 2 like most people. It's a fun side-story.)
Cars 3, though, has Lightning McQueen getting older, slower, and considering retirement. And he's not particularly happy about it. (Who is?) I found myself identifying with Lightning McQueen, as newer, younger cars began to replace him and become more relevant. And not only that, but in saying goodbye to Lightning McQueen's racing career, I found myself recognizing an end of an era: David's toddlerhood. Days I will never get back that have been so happy for me and him, as I watch him line up his Cars characters, call them his "guys", and give them all kisses. Soon, I was picturing myself an old women, seeing an old Lightning McQueen die cast toy car, and remembering all those sweet days with my little boy!
But that's why I cried through Cars 3.