Trump hasn’t even been inaugurated yet, and already the world seems like a much grimmer place. Case in point: the teaser trailer for Cars 3, released Monday. Though Cars is traditionally the silliest of the Pixar franchises, the teaser has no goofball jokes, no romance, and no sign of a goofy redneck tow truck. And the tone couldn’t be more different from the other films in the franchise if it were about serial killers. As a point of reference, here’s the teaser for Cars 2:
That’s what people expect from a Cars film—the trailer is goofy, happy, and playful, even while communicating what will be different about the sequel from the original (spies!). Cars 3 doesn’t seem to just be playing in a different ballpark, it’s playing a different game entirely. It is clearly a Cars movie: It’s got a beautiful shot of franchise hero Lightning McQueen, No. 95. And it’s clearly a Pixar movie: The quality of the rendering and animation is light-years ahead of the 2011 sequel, as the company continues to push the state of the art forward. Every bolt and piece of metal on McQueen’s frame looks hyperreal.
Unfortunately, those bolts and pieces of metal aren’t entirely on McQueen’s frame: He’s flying through the air upside-down, sparks flying, spoiler ripped loose, tire blown off the rim. It’s probably a blessing that he isn’t particularly anthropomorphic and his face is off camera, given what’s happening to him. This teaser doesn’t look like a lighthearted romp through the world of stock car racing; it looks like the first act of The Sea Inside. Will Lightning McQueen spend the rest of the film paralyzed, fighting a battle for the legal right to euthanasia? Will he die outright, sending Mater the tow truck on a bloody quest for revenge? How many more cars will lose their lives in the ensuing pile-on? Is this the only landscape left for children’s films, a hellish wasteland of oil and fire and concrete and destruction? Only one thing is certain: Donald Trump is somehow to blame.