The teaser trailer for Cars 3 that Pixar released today feels more like a campaign ad against texting and driving than a preview of a fluffy children’s movie about a racing car.
The first Cars movie was released in 2006, and followed a hot-shot race car named Lightning McQueen who learns what the true meaning of friendship is when he winds up alone in the desolate town of Radiator Springs. The sequel, Cars 2, followed in 2011 and took this group of strong knit friends to Paris for the Grand Prix. Things go a little awry after one of McQueen’s friends, Mater, gets caught up in a web of international espionage, but they all band together and eventually save the day.
Why is any of that important? It’s to demonstrate that Cars, much like other Pixar series, was a light-hearted, cute story about a car and his other car friends. It’s also why the teaser trailer for Cars 3 is so jarring. There are no smiling faces painted on the hoods of race cars, or bright colors dancing around the screen as people cheer. There are no funny one liners or cheerful depositions. Instead, the only thing on screen is a blob of cars racing around a track before it becomes almost monochromatic, as a car slowly flips through the air, with no sound aside from the ringing of ears and heavy breathing.
“From this moment everything will change.”
Pixar, what is happening? Why would you take a nice children’s movie franchise and turn it into one of the most effective MADD campaigns? The trailer doesn’t provide any more information on what’s going to happen in this movie, but it seems fairly unlikely that McQueen is going to bite the bullet. Pixar has a tendency to play with its audiences’ heartstrings — let’s not get into that Toy Story 3 scene — but this seems entirely out of place for the studio.
Hopefully we’ll get more information in the next trailer, and a bit of a happier re-introduction of McQueen’s character after being away for more than five years. Cars 3, which will see Owen Wilson reprise his role as McQueen, will be released in theaters June 16, 2017.