In Theaters: Review of Cars 2

by | Jun 25th, 2011 | 10:14AM | Filed under: Movies, Theatrical Reviews

Cars 2In Theaters Review of Cars 2: The gang from Radiator Springs goes on an international adventure that pumps up the action, but veers significantly from the tone of the original.

In 2006, Cars introduced us to the quaint (and fictional) town of Radiator Springs, an all but forgotten stop off of Route 66. There we met Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman), and hotshot race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who found himself in the middle of nowhere by accident. In Cars 2, we see that McQueen has kept his promise to help put Radiator Springs back on the map, and the area is bustling. A quick tribute is paid to Doc and we get a few minutes with most of the other characters from the first film, but then the attention shifts to a Bond-like plot involving some sort of Big Oil/alt-energy conspiracy that’s wrapped up in the World Grand Prix. Bye-bye American Southwest, hello England, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany!

Yep, all of those locations (and I think even a few more, I lost count) are visited in the film as the international race — which Lightning participates in thanks to a public announcement unintentionally made by Mater — moves from country to country. While Lightning is trying to concentrate on winning — and keeping his #1 rival, F1 hotshot Francesco Bernouli (John Turturro), at bay — Mater wanders right into the middle of a spy operation. British agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) mistake Mater for an American agent who’s supposed to be working with them on the oil case, and the happy-go-lucky tow truck unknowingly plays along. See, Mater comes off as such an impossibly goofy hick to Finn and Holly that they assume his whole shtick must be an act. And, um, by the way… if you find Mater’s whole “redneck hillbilly” thing grating, then you might want to avoid this film.

Mater’s golly-gee personality and his yuck-yuck voice are inescapable in Cars 2, and that’s really too bad. Most of the weak laughs are built around the truck doing things like mistaking wasabi for ice cream or freaking out in a high-tech Japanese bathroom. So much attention is paid to Mater and the haphazard ways he ends up helping the spycars that at times I totally forgot about Lightning and the big race. Cars 2Everything felt disjointed or rushed, and there were no scenes that went straight to my heart or activated my tear ducts. Nothing in Cars 2 is memorable.

But it is still a Pixar film, and while it might have missed the mark tonally, visually it’s as stunning as we’ve come to expect from the animation studio that’s currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. There were a few downhill racing scenes from the cars’ point-of-view that were spectacular, and seeing famous landmarks from around the world get the Pixar treatment was pretty cool as well — especially when they were given slight but fitting adjustments, like Big Ben becoming Big Bentley.

It wouldn’t be a Disney production without some sort of moral to the story, albeit in this case it’s a pretty weak one: Lightning learns that he just needs to accept Mater for who he is and not be embarrassed of his friend or try to change him. Hmm, I’m not even sure I agree with that lesson, considering Mater’s totally ignorant behavior overseas. But I digress.

Kids of all ages will enjoy Cars 2, but any adult who’s seen the other Pixar movies will inevitably hold the sequel to a higher standard and likely walk away a little disappointed. I know I did. However, the reality is that Cars 2, even with all of its action at the expense of plot and sentiment, is a better film than most soulless and thoughtless by-the-numbers options currently in theaters. This rare misstep by Pixar is still superior to most everything else coming out of Hollywood, although I do think I’ve now reached my lifetime Mater Tolerance limit. If there’s ever a third Cars film, I hope he takes a back seat. (Pun intended.)


Want more Cars? Reserve a copy of Cars 2: The Game tonight!

11 Responses to “In Theaters: Review of Cars 2”

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    steven kenyon
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    loved the movie

  1. Jeremy F.
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    At least their first ‘flop’ so to say, is a sequal and not an original…

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    The movies was good but there was not much suspense and not much plot like the fist one with people going back and forth from the main character and the others

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Pixar movies usually make my eyes water…this one made my eyes close. My son elbowed me to wake me up twice! Our kids are being brainwashed into believing that “Big Oil” and profits are evil. This movie pushes this agenda throughout. We won’t be buying t-shirts, die cast cars, or other Cars 2 paraphernalia. Pixar can do better…this one was WEAK.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Bad bad sequel fell asleep about 20 minutes in. Wish i didn’t wake up so soon.

  2. Clemmie Hooper
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I caught ‘Cars 2′ on opening day – and this review provides the best overview I have seen thus far. It doesn’t quite measure up to the magic of the original, nor to the James Bond adventures that it loosely spoofs – but it IS quite well worth seeing in its own right.

    I am a Mater fan, so I will take issue with the reviewer’s ‘Mater intolerance’. Mater does a fine job of carrying this film – and without him, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

    The kids will clearly love it – and at 48, I loved it – so it is a movie with ‘whole family’ appeal. Parents should brace themselves, though, for the biggest movie-related Merchandising Blitz of all time. With plenty of heroes and villains to choose from – there’s 159 named characters, and over 300 toys have already been announced – there will be something for EVERY possible taste.

  3. Me
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Funny, I saw two parents asleep as well in my row as I was taking my 4 year old to go to the bathroom a record 2 times. She was bored, I was bored. I asked for a refund.

  4. martine
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    This film was ridiculously violent and way inappropriate for young children. There were so many references to being killed/dying/etc that I lost count. The amount of guns and weapons in the film is usually reserved for military/mafia flicks. I would have truly appreciated a warning by Pixar that the movie may not be appropriate for children of all ages.
    Although the reviewer says, “Kids of all ages will enjoy Cars 2,” I say beware!

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    Michael P. Mugan
    Posted on June 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    This one was a good movie, but it will never hold a candle to the first one. All of the grandcildren lov ed it and so did i. It is well worth seing..

    • Currently 4/5 Stars
    Gabbye Patire
    Posted on June 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

    My husband and I took our 4 year old son to see Cars 2 in 3D this weekend. I do agree that it was not as good as the first one, but it is rare that any sequel lives up to the original. We all enjoyed the movie. I believe that it was a direction to go in, so it would not seem like a remake of the original. We did not feel like the violence was too much for a kids movie. Our son did not mention anything about the violence after the movie, he was still focused on Mater and McQueen. My husband is a huge movie critique and he did not have anything negative to say. With that being said, we definitely think it was worth the money to take our son to see, he really enjoyed it and that’s all that matters.

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    Posted on June 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I enjoyed the film! I thought it had an average and predictable story however it had great messages and voice-acting. It isn’t what I expected. I would’ve liked it to be better than it was. I really liked the Toy Story short, it added a funny moment before the film. It was more Mater’s (Larry the Cable Guy) movie than Lighting McQueens (Owen Wilson). I thought it should’ve been rated PG rather than a G. A recommendable film for older kids to rent from Redbox. Not worth spending over seven dollars to see in cinema.