A decade after "Cars" debuted, Lightning McQueen is back, and he's in trouble. The trailer — rendered in a dark, hyperrealistic style — shows a harrowing crash, followed by these words:
From this moment everything will change.
This certainly isn't the first time Pixar has flirted with difficult material — from "Toy Story" to "Up," the studio has dealt gracefully with issues of aging and loss. Putting Lightning McQueen in the position to try to recover from injury, to compete with younger racers and perhaps grapple with mortality, is dark material to be sure, but Pixar often finds marvelous light in darkness.
As someone in the neighborhood of middle age (ahem), I didn't love "Cars 2." OK, I didn't even like it. But I find myself hopeful that this threequel will prove to be a story that lets Pixar do what it does best: Tell a relatable, heartfelt stories of loss and growth.
The movie is due in theaters June 16, 2017, after its release date was moved up a year.