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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.44%
Worth A Look: 17.78%
Average: 4.44%
Pretty Bad57.78%
Total Crap: 15.56%

6 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Cars 2
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by Jay Seaver

"Not as sophisticated as Pixar's other films, but heavy on the fun."
4 stars

There's no getting around the fact that "Cars 2" exists because of Disney's merchandising machine, and unlike the "Toy Story" sequels, which also exist in large part because the stuff on the shelves could use a refresh and a boost, the original "Cars" wasn't well-received by critics. As a result, there's less anticipation and more cynicism where this one's concerned, as few are saying "well, I don't like sequels as a rule, but I really love Lightning and Mater" the way they did with Buzz and Woody. For as clear as the mercenary motives behind it's creation are, though, "Cars 2" succeeds at being an entertaining adventure.

Somewhere in the South Pacific of the Cars world (where cartoon vehicles live without human drivers), British Intelligence operative Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) has come upon a secret base where a colleague has disappeared, and he barely escapes from the clutches of Professor Z (voice of Thomas Kretschmann) himself. Meanwhile, back in Radiator Springs, stock racer Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) was planning on some R&R after another successful season, but the goading of open-wheel racer Francesco Bernoulli (voice of John Turturro) has him sign up for the World Grand Prix, this time with his new friends from the first movie as his pit crew, including his loyal but far-from-worldly best bud Tow Mater (voice of Dan "Larry" Whitney). Things get hairy, though, once they arrive in Tokyo - Mater's cornpone antics are kind of embarrassing to McQueen, while McMissile and his assistant Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer) mistake Mater for the American spy they were sent to meet, sweeping him into a world of intrigue.

Cars 2 is kind of an odd duck compared to other recent Pixar movies, and even its own progenitor. It's the first feature from the studio that really doesn't have an emotional gut-punch since, well, Cars - even the moment where Mater recognizes that others often see him as a buffoon is muted, either not looking or not succeeding in getting the audience to cry like Up and the Toy Story sequels managed. Even without bringing those into the picture, it's in many ways the inverse of director John Lasseter's original Cars. Lasseter and his co-writers move McQueen from lead to supporting and Mater in the other direction, crafting the story around Mater at odds with big international cities rather than McQueen in small town America. The tone is completely different; where Cars was often quiet and pastoral, the sequel is loud and packed with action.

Indeed, it's a bit surprising that the movie has a G rating in the United States; the amount of action is comparable to Pixar's PG-rated The Incredibles, although with more gunplay. The amount of action might not be the only thing familiar from The Incredibles, either; Michael Giacchino uses the same sort of sound for his score, a giddy and rousing thing that enhances the action scenes. Giacchino is known for adapting his sound to the environment, a big plus as the movie zips around the world; he even switches it up when Mater takes the lead in an action scene toward the end so that it fits the character but doesn't come off as silly.

Making the movie a big action-adventure rather than a gentle comedy does sort of minimize the work of the original cast, aside from Larry; Owen Wilson has relatively little to do, for instance (and, sadly, Paul Newman and George Carlin are no longer with us; Newman's Doc Hudson is mourned while Lloyd Sherr takes over as the voice of VW Bus Fillmore). Mater is perhaps not the greatest choice for a lead; both Larry's voice and the character design are broad enough that serious moments aren't all they can be. Wilson does have an amusing new sparring partner in John Turturro's Francesco Bernoulli, a third-person-talking ego with wheels. Emily Mortimer is a perfect choice for Holley; there's a scene where Mater explains why he keeps his dents and the delivery of her response is a tiny, perfect thing that winds up grounding the whole movie.

A great deal of the fun comes from the spy cars and their adventures, and Finn McMissile is just a brilliant creation: He is simultaneously James Bond, James Bond's tricked-out Aston Martin, and Michael Caine, and those ingredients create as perfect a combination of spy-movie cool as could possibly fit in a family adventure movie. His American counterpart being a wisecracking Detroit muscle car voiced by B-movie icon Bruce Campbell is just icing on the cake. The action scenes are big and intense (perhaps a little much for the youngest in the audience), but also fun and exciting. Use of 3D is pretty good, especially in the first sequence, with its chopping waves and clever angles.

The animation looks beautiful, of course; smooth, colorful, and full of niftily-designed characters, but that's what we expect from Pixar by now. We expect so much from these guys that a movie like "Cars 2" which is "merely" an sleek popcorn adventure with some clever bits can seem like a let-down instead of a couple hours of good fun.

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originally posted: 06/30/11 04:12:32
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User Comments

3/23/15 Jerry Spray You can't put a Pixar film and a spy movie together. It doesn't work. 1 stars
10/26/11 ashley rexrode my kids really enjoyed this movi 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic A Larry Cable Guy movie. It's also a Pixar movie, but a Cable Guy movie nonetheless. Dammit 3 stars
8/11/11 Quang Thịnh Not better than the first one but it's quite good 2 stars
8/05/11 Robert Trebor Whoa! I fell asleep three times, and I saw the 3-D version! 2 stars
7/31/11 Quigley Easily my least favorite Pixar film. Long, boring and unfunny, but visuals are amazing. 3 stars
7/14/11 savvysweep1 funny movie especially for the kids 5 stars
6/30/11 Kim Phan I liked it. But than again, I'm a big fan of the first one~ 4 stars
6/26/11 Jennifer Barr kids loved it 4 stars
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  24-Jun-2011 (G)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2011


  DVD: 01-Nov-2011

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