you can be smarter than him

A couple things, and I'll keep this short today: 1) Sometimes I really like that the Internet is full of cynical assholes who hate everything; it makes some movies exceed my expectations after reading all the horrible reviews. 2) Sometimes the feminist story is not the one you expect.

I saw Rough Night and Cars 3 today. The former is primarily about five women reuniting for a bachelorette weekend then accidentally killing a guy (and a whole lot more after that). The latter is--and I will include SPOILERS almost immediately--about an aging athlete learning to let go and allow someone new to take his place. That someone new is a younger woman. While Rough Night is basically a female-oriented update of Very Bad Things crossed with The Hangover, the most it does to raise up women is in its treatment, however brief, of the men they leave behind to go to Miami; the men are seen at a very sedate wine tasting, and talking about relationships, while the women are partying, doing drugs, killing people.

The far less obviously female-oriented Cars 3, on the other hand--that's the one that really offers up something progressive. Not deliberately, though. It's not explicitly about Cruz (Cristela Alonzo) getting her chance because she's female, but as I said last week regarding Wonder Woman, some of the best feminism is incidental, when the gender is barely relevant. A piece of an ideal future in which gender really wouldn't matter anymore because men would no longer be systematically holding women (and LGBTQ folk) down. In fact, Cars 3 offers up several incidentally progressive details. A female demolition derby champion, a retired female racer, a retired (coded) black racer. Plus, the new billionaire owner of Rusteeze is named Sterling, like some rich boy who's never really worked a day in his life, and is out to force McQueen to retire. There's a whole bunch of social commentary and none of it is really on the surface. Which, for a kid's film, is pretty cool.

And, also pretty good, by the way.

Plotwise, it's like if Rocky III got lost inside Rocky IV and then realized it was actually Creed (but the new boxer is female). Which might sound confusing, but now that I wrote it, it actually describes the film pretty well.


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