The gang from Radiator Springs is back. In Cars 2, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has just returned to the town he loves to hang with his best buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and his girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt). But before he can relax for an entire day, he's challenged to compete in the World Grand Prix.
He's off to travel the world with Mater and win the day... until Mater embarrasses him in front of his rival and leaves him during a race. While trying to figure out a Japanese bathroom, Mater is mistaken for an American agent by British intelligence cars Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) and swept off on an adventure of his own.
It breaks my heart to say this. It really does. Cars 2 is my least favorite Pixar film.
Visually, it was beautiful, from the stunning water scene in the opening of the film to the shine on the chrome. There is just something about cars as characters that doesn't warm the heart. And that is what's missing from this film. Heart. They're cute, I guess, but they just don't grab you the way another piece of metal, WALL-E, did. There is a message about accepting your friends for who they are, and that is admirable. But something is missing here that all other Pixar films (with the exception of the original Cars) seem to have. It's that ability to grab your heart and never let it go. Understand that I, like most people, hold Pixar to a higher standard. When compared to so-so fare like Megamind, this film could certainly compete. It's like the worst jellybean in the bag. Sure, you might not like licorice, but it's still candy. It just can't compete with its predecessors.
And it wasn't just the heart that was missing. There is so much more. The story makes no sense, though it would be a spoiler to explain why. Let's just say that there is really no reason for the villain to do what he does. The locations are beautiful, but we barely spend any time in them. Lightning is no longer the protagonist. That job falls to Mater, who, though funny, just can't carry a film.
It also doesn't help that as loveable as Mater is, anyone would be embarrassed to be with him. Accepting people for what they are is a noble message, but if my friend peed on the floor, broke things all over the place, screamed after mistaking wasabi for ice cream and made a general fool of himself at an event I took him to, I'm sure no one would fault me for getting a little annoyed. You don't feel bad for Mater here. You, like McQueen, would rather be anywhere else but watching this train wreck. The next day, during the Grand Prix, Mater is distracted and causes McQueen to lose the race of a lifetime. Yes, that too would make anyone mad. All this is after McQueen, who didn't want anything more than to take the summer off, is goaded into the Grand Prix because of Mater's actions. See where I'm going here?
This is also one of the most violent Pixar films, with cars being shot at, thrown into the ocean to drown and dying. Yes, dying. It tries to be a Bond film, but when was the last time you let your five-year-old watch one of those? Would he even know who James Bond is? And isn't your five-year-old the one begging to see this film?
Out of five stars...
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