Matthew Lickona 3:45 p.m., Dec. 15
“It’s a kids’ movie!” Well, no, not quite, not when the theme is middle-aged obsolescence and finding meaning beyond personal achievement. Not when the unhappy fate that horrifies star racecar Lightning McQueen is forced retirement and transformation into a brand. And definitely not when more effort shows in the photorealistic depiction of grass and dirt than in the voice acting and wit. Such things are not the stuff of childhood. But you’d be forgiven for thinking it was, what with the picture-book baldness of the dialogue, the goofy action at a demolition derby, and the toyish, squishy look of the automotive characters amid all those exquisitely sharp-edged backgrounds. (Oh, that cross-country drive…) But then again, maybe it’s only the middle-aged men in attendance who will think of McQueen as the star, even as they wonder why they don’t feel a thing. Onscreen and in the audience, youth will be served. Brian Fee directs. 2017.