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The car-as-human idea was never Pixar’s biggest brain wave and as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) hits the track for a third outing, the Disney animated franchise is running on fumes.Pixar

The car-as-human idea was never Pixar's biggest brain wave and as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) hits the track for a third outing, the Disney animated franchise is running on fumes. To return a conquering hero to underdog status, the screenwriters have invented a bunch of younger, slicker new rivals with high-tech training methods who can overtake the reigning champion on the straightaway: Can an aging Lightning stay in the race? It's a plot that seems more likely to appeal to weary parents than the next generation of bouncy youngsters, although it does deliver one very funny scene where Lightning crashes a fancy new racing simulator as its preternaturally calm computerized voice describes the disaster. Otherwise, we get a lot of repetitive racetrack scenes – only a demolition derby stands out for the inventiveness of its animation – and a familiar message about believing in yourself.