I finally found time to watch this film again (even though I’ve probably seen it a hundred times over the years).
I really like the Hinder to Help character arc for McQueen’s Changed Resolve. In the beginning he dismissed anyone who gets in his way—even his teammates. And at the end he’s helping a competitor across the finish line...
...which brings me to the first Storypoints—the Story Outcome. While I completely understand the rationale that McQueen lost the race, you have to understand that the Overall Story isn’t about the race alone. It’s about bringing back something that was lost—and with that in mind, it’s a Success story.
Radiator Springs regains its customer base, Mater gets a ride in a helicopter, McQueen gets invited to be the face of Dinoco (what he really wanted)—and the only Antagonist, Chick Hicks, loses.
Appreciating the argument in that context, the Story Driver is Action. The three-way tie forces McQueen out onto the open road. The hospitality of Radiator Springs drives McQueen to change his mind to want to stay. And his final gesture of helping the King across the finish line restores vitality for all.
This gives the MC plot progression a more accurate assessment of the narrative (and what totally stood out during my most recent viewing).
In the beginning, McQueen is on the road to fame and fortune. Life is Progressing and the face of Dinoco is changing.
Then he gets stuck in Radiator Springs and suddenly that dream turns to an imagined nightmarish Future where Chick takes his spot.
After the midpoint, McQueen finds himself completely focused on the Present and how much he wants to stay there. He even seems to forget about the race he is so Present.
And that the end he revisits his Past race and the time he had with all his friends back in that hillbilly hell.