Friday, 28 July 2017


Went to see Cars 3, 3 days ago, with a 3 year-old. 

Not just any 3 year-old, of course.  This one knows me by the charming nickname “Uncle”. 
And we play a brilliant wee game where he asks me a question like “Guess what I’ve got to eat?”
And then, even though I know it’s a Jaffa Cake, I say
“Duck a l’orange?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is iiiiiit….pan-fried sea bass with citrus-dressed broccoli?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is iiiiiit….buffalo mozzarella, braised tarragon, pickled celeriac and oak-smoked chicory?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is iiiiiit….Warm Mousseline of Sussex Chicken stuffed with Cave-Matured Roquefort and Fresh Harvested Walnuts in a Sauce of Sorrel Hollandaise on a bed of Julienned Russet Apples?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it a Jaffa Cake?”, and he says
“It’s a Jaffa Cake!”, and I don’t ask him whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or a biscuit, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that it doesn’t matter either way because Jaffa Cakes are rubbish.

(Or, he might ask me something else, like
“Guess what we’re watching today?”, and I ask
“Is it the director’s cut of Betty Blue?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it The Day The Earth Stood Still?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it the Vietnam documentary The Year Of The Pig?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it every episode of Willow The Wisp starring Kenneth Williams?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it a new production of The Chairs by the absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco, in which a mute orator’s tragi-comic inability to communicate a lifetime’s accumulated wisdom is used as an analogy for the human condition?”, and he says
“No!”, and I ask
“Is it Cars 3?”, and he says
“It’s Cars 3!”)

Anyway, on a rainy day in the Lake District, in Cumbria (that’s Up North, to you), we are going with aforementioned 3 year-old to see Cars 3.  (We are assured that not having seen Cars and Cars 2 will not hinder our enjoyment of this cinematic spectacle, although I admit to a little scepticism on this score.  Trainspotting 2 definitely needed the refresher-viewing of Trainspotting….)

The 3 year-old is tremendously excited, especially as we’re going for pizza first.  The 3 year-old is insistent that he has been to the same pizza restaurant chain previously, but this is disputed by everyone else.  He sticks to his story anyway, so I speculate that maybe he’s got a secret family, and I have to report that he is surprisingly coy in response to this.  I think I see a sort of wistful, enigmatic smile, just for a second.  There’s no smoke without fire.  (Except in a wood-smoker, or something like that.)

Cars 3 is an animated film, in which cars are used to represent people.  They’re not actual people, of course, they’re computer-generated images voiced by actors with recognisable voices.
Despite featuring computer-generated animation which posits a world in which cars are like people and headlights are eyes, Cars 3 is like Every Film Ever.  No better, and no worse than most I have seen.  The 3 year-old and I may see this a bit differently, but I don’t push the issue because I am tired and a bit cranky, and don’t want to say something I regret.  I don’t have any strong feeling against it anyway.

It’s not Citizen Kane, is what Mark Kermode or one of them lot would say.  (Interestingly (to me and possibly no one else), on the flagship BBC Film Review Programme on the radio last week, Kermode and his co-host Simon Salad Cream insisted that everywhere in the UK, trousers are trousers and are not called pants.  I can report that in Cumbria (or possibly just South Cumbria), trousers are indeed referred to as pants, by almost all locals/natives in almost all contexts.  So there.)

But it’s no worse than the Harry Potter films, is it?  Lots of adults watch those (or read the books), for reasons best known to themselves.  But Every Film is the same, isn’t it?  At the start, once The Protagonist has been (re-)introduced, the Ideal Status Quo is established.  Then the status quo is threatened by a new character (The Antagonist), whose presence derails The Protagonist, who must then go on a journey of personal discovery and rediscover his/her mojo, defeating The Antagonist and re-establishing a somehow-improved Ideal Status Quo, with the addition of a new sidekick.

We only get 2 3rds of the way through that in the case of Cars 3, because the 3 year-old gets a bit restless and a group decision is taken to sack the film off.  I am restless myself, what with my sore knee and everything.
So I missed Act 3 of Cars 3 because of the 3 year-old who was the reason I was watching Cars 3.
But you know me, I don’t complain – I didn’t make a big deal of it, despite missing the denouement, and even the preceding jeopardy…

We get on fine, we just don’t talk about Jaffa Cakes, or things I like that he finds dull and cardboard-like.  He didn’t seem particularly thrilled by my Top 5/Top 10 Films Ever discussion with the waiter at the pizza place, and didn’t even weigh in when the waiter expressed surprise that The Usual Suspects hadn’t made my Top 10.)  His favourite band are Kasabian, so we don’t dwell on that either.  A lot of people like them, who am I to judge?

(Seriously, though, Jaffa Cakes are made of cardboard, aren’t they?  How else could anyone make something that tastes like cardboard, orange jelly/marmalade and a thin layer of chocolate-coloured nothingness without actually making it out of those things?  They’re a total fucking misnomer, I won’t be told any different.  I know from experience!  Every once in a long while, I forget how shit they are and someone kindly offers me one.  And I eat it, and remember why I haven’t eaten one for so long.  And I wonder if it’s actually a mix of cardboard and some kind of sponge.  Not cake sponge, kitchen sponge.  And then the gap until I eat another is a bit longer than the time before.  That’s how we learn, isn’t it?)

As I say, we get on very nicely, he’s great fun.  (The next day, we will play a game where I am Darth Vader, and the 3 year-old will be very gracious about my sub-par, hungover David Prowse/James Earl Jones act.  I will be mortified by my poor oxygen mask noise/deep voiced Transatlantic accent and generally achy lumbering, but it will not seem to spoil his enjoyment of the game.  He is a class act.)

Anyway, here’s my review of Cars 3: The first 2 3rds aren’t 2 bad.  (It helps to have no/low expectations.)

Life is complicated.

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