Last week I had the opportunity to attend the press conference for CARS 3. It’s always great to sit down at these events and hear straight from the people involved with bringing them to life.

We were delighted and surprised to find that we absolutely loved the film; you can read a spoiler-free spoiler free review here. We got an extra special kick this week when we found not just one but two of our quotes used in recent commercials for the film!

Below you can see some of the noteworthy things that struck me about my favorite of the CARS films.

CARS 3 is the WONDER WOMAN for Pixar films

Girl Power! And CARS 3 is full of girl power. The newest character introduced in the franchise is Cruz Rameriz, played by Cristela Alonzo. Her character Cruz, is a top trainer for race cars and has been instructed to help get Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) back on the racetrack. I loved the dynamic between the characters, and it is really her character that gives Lightning the huge story arc, and pivitol moment in the film.

Alonzo on Cruz “What I like about Cruz is that I think she’s very relatable to both boys and girls. You might have doubts about things, you might not know how you’re going to pull something off, and at the end of the day you realize the only way to make sure you can do your best is to actually just go for it and trust your instincts. I think that’s something we all struggle with at times – the whole idea that you think you can do something and then you have doubts. You realize you’ve got to forget the doubts, it’s going to happen anyways – let’s just try our best and see what happens, and I love that about her.”

Natalie Certain voiced by Kerry Washington, works for the Racing Sports Network who basically gives us the statistics of each race. When the newer and faster race cars come in she basically can’t bet against them. But there is a little more depth to her character by the end, and Washington had this to say “I do think it’s fun to see women in the film who are brave, smart, and courageous but also teachable. Women who balance having extraordinary talent and intellect but are also humble enough to learn the lessons they learn at the end of the film. To learn that you have to step into your greatness and that it’s not as simple as numbers. Heart and passion is the most important thing.”

 There is actually improv in the film

When thinking about animated films, you don’t generally think about lines or scenes being improvised. It seems like that would be hard since the film is story boarded out and animated. But director, Brian Fee said that he had to go back to the script numerous times and change dialogue or some of the action by what wonderful reactions and lines came from the actor’s. Alonzo and Wilson actually got to record their lines together, to help build off that relationship Cruz and Lightning have in the film.

Honoring your elders

The film definitely hit home for me as I struggle to be 35 years old and recently married. Yes, I know, I’m not that old. But the film also has an underlining theme of honoring your elders. And the three “elders” in the film were all real pioneers in racing. Louise Smith, Wendell Scott, and Junior Johnson.

Isiah Whitlock Jr, who voices River Scott, a Piston Cup racer from the 1950s, gave his thoughts on the heavy themes, “I really feel that we need to pay attention to the pioneers, and the people who have come before us. And some of the struggles, especially with the character that I play. We need to pay attention to that and to see how we got to where we are today. I know with Scott, he did not have the sponsors or the equipment, there were so many obstacles and yet he was able to persevere. That’s the key word there, perseverance, overcoming a lot of those obstacles to be successful.”

CARS gets its heart back

There is no question that CARS 2 was a miss. It focused less of the heart of the franchise. Nathan Fillion who voices Sterling, says the reason why PIXAR and this film’s success “Here’s my theory, nothing happens by accident in a Pixar movie. They tell their story one pixel at a time. So, by the time it gets to the point where I’m sitting there in front of the microphone, all of the hard work has actually been done. I rely very heavily on the director, we get to play around a little bit, but in all honesty you’re looking at a thanksgiving meal and Nathan is the pepper. They work has been done, we just need a little extra pepper and we’re done.”

NASCAR superstar, Ray Evernham moderated the event and started things off by asking Brian Fee why the Cars films have resonated with audiences for over a decade. “I think it’s the characters and the overall appeal to their realism.  When you walk away from a movie, if you felt anything at all, it’s probably because of the characters. You can see a little bit of yourself in them, see a little bit of someone you know. I think at the end of the day that’s what we take away.”

Never give up on your dream

What I learned most from this film, is to never give up on your dream. Even if your dream may shift a little like Lightning’s this movie teaches you that you should never give up. Ray Evernham assured me that we will see a women NASCAR Crew Chief very soon. There is already so much of a women’s presence in the NASCAR world with drivers, pit crew, and the General Motors head of Technology is a women as well! CARS  3 will vroom into your heart the minute you watch it.

CARS 3 races into theaters nationwide today.