DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Cars 2

Saturday 12 November 2011

Cars 2

Cars 2 (2012) dir. John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Featuring voice talents of: OwenWilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Bonnie Hunt


By Alan Bacchus

The first Cars film wasn’t that great, yet after repeated viewings at the behest of my toddler I learned to appreciate the tender message about the feelings of obsolescence and being left behind in an increasingly fast-paced world. In the first film Lightning McQueen, the pre-eminent cocky race car driver, represented the exciting yet superficial life of celebrity and the aw shucks folks of Radiator Springs, a small dead town on Route 66, represented the value of growing roots and staying true to home.

Years later, after Cars arguably became one of Pixar’s most popular ancillary profit centres (after Toy Story), there arose a need for a sequel. In this film, John Lasseter (Pixar’s co-founder/creative leader and director of this film) expands the Cars world, creating an international spy story barely even related to the previous film.

The star of this picture is actually Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the rusted tow truck/country hick who loves to tag along with the fancy-pants McQueen. After seeing the revered Italian racer Francesco Bernoulli disrespect his buddy on TV, he challenges him to an all-star race of sorts with McQueen. This takes McQueen, reluctantly bringing along Mater, to far flung international locations like Japan and England.

Lasseter derives some typical fish-out-of-water hijinks exposing the country bumpkin to the extravagance of Tokyo. While gallivanting around town, Mater accidently gets recruited by a James Bond-type spy, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), to help stop the maniacal world domination plot of a clandestine organization.

Racing is secondary to Mater’s stumbling around with the international British spies. If you enjoy Larry the Cable Guy's self-effacing white trash humour you’ll at least tolerate this film. Lightning McQueen is barely in it – same with those delightfully warm characters of Radiator Springs, including Sally and Mack.

Even the visuals leave much to be desired. Usually with each Pixar film we can see a noticeable step forward in technical achievement in computer animation. Cars 2 is a step backward, less impactful visually than any of the recent Pixar films, and even less so than the original movie. Most of the action is presented in an over-the-top hyper reality, whereas the original film was mostly photorealistic and contained in the physical geography of the Nascar racetrack, the desert highway or the small town of Radiator Springs. The opening action scene in this film, which takes place on a freighter barge, features overly produced gunfire and explosions. Most of this film is painted with this type of brush.

As such, Cars 2 feels like just a cartoon instead of a movie. In fact, it feels like simply an expanded version of the accompanying Pixar shorts, Cars Toons – Mater’s Tall Tales, bite-sized morsels of Cars-action featuring Mater and Lighting in fun adventures.

Cars 2 is the only across-the-board uniform failure from Pixar. Still, after 15 years and 12 movies, that’s a pretty good run.

Cars 2 is available on Blu-ray from Walt Disney Home Entertainment.


Greg Klymkiw said...

Alan, this movie stinks to high Heaven. It even bored Julia and she's in the picture's demographic. Then again, she doesn't much like the first CARS either. For me, it's a bloody masterpiece compared to C2.

T.J. Hawke said...

I really couldn't believe that this came from Pixar as I was watching it. It was a Larry Cable The Guy movie, and it was probably no better than any of the other films that have starred him (although I will admit to never actually putting myself through those films).

After so many emotionally engaging films from Pixar, I was really disappointed to see such a blatant cash-in film from them.

This was the worst movie I have seen that came out in 2011.

Wow, that came across as very negative, but I really found nothing redeeming about this film at all.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that Cars 2 is one of the best family friendly kid films to hit blu-ray lately. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out at least once as a family. If you don’t want to shell out the money to buy it, then one way you can see it is by using the new Blockbuster Movie Pass. As a DISH Network customer and employee I can tell you that right now if you switch to DISH Network you can get the Movie Pass FREE for 3 months! There are over 100,000 titles to choose from like Cars 2, TV shows and games you can get through the mail. Plus you can get 5 in-store exchanges per month with no due dates or late fees. (That’s something you can’t do with Netflix….) Check it out!

Fast Penny Cars said...

Sounds like a good movie,