Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine
Director: John Lasseter
Running Time: 106 mins
Cars 2 is an American film and the sequel to Cars. With the emergence of a new alternative fuel, Allinol, Lightning McQueen is invited to take part in the World Grand Prix in Japan, Italy and Britain. Meanwhile, Mater accidentally becomes embroiled in a worldwide spy conspiracy surrounding a series of fuel-related explosions in races.
As disappointing as it is, Cars 2 isn’t actually my least favourite Pixar film (that honour goes to Brave). My overriding impression of the film is that it’s a pure kids’ movie with only merchandising in mind. Its story is dumb, the humour is average, and it doesn’t present anything new from Pixar’s animation. On the whole, it’s not a good film, but the best parts of the first Cars movie do hang on, including a great voice cast and yet more stunning (albeit samey) animation.
The thing that makes Cars 2 so disappointing is that it goes for an insanely formulaic story. Rather than having the heart and intelligence of the first movie to compensate for a lack of emotional power, it’s a one-dimensional blockbuster with a dull, overplayed message, predictable twists, and a pointless venture into espionage thriller territory that doesn’t match at all with the spirit initiated in the first film.
Realism is definitely not something I can complain about with these movies, given that the main characters are talking cars, but the line does have to be drawn somewhere. While the first movie embraced the characters as cars and worked around that, Cars 2 turns them into full-blown humans in the shape of cars. It seems like a hugely nit-picky gripe, but seeing cars with such flexible limbs climbing all over walls, shaking hands and more was something that really got on my nerves throughout, and sums up the writers’ lack of attention in keeping this as Cars-type movie in any way.
Another mildly disappointing thing about Cars 2 is that it looks far more like a cartoon than any other Pixar film. Pixar movies are indeed cartoons, but there was something about Cars 2’s overly comical Fisher Price appearance that made it even less exciting to look at. There are still some thrilling cityscape panoramas from the genius animators, but the bulk of the action makes this look far more like a bog-standard studio animation, rather than the work of Pixar.
The one good thing about this movie, which really helps to instil some enjoyment value, is the voice cast. Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer and Michael Caine all give delightful performances, and give their characters a brilliant energy on screen when the screenplay doesn’t. I wasn’t so impressed with the comedy in this film, but the way that the leads carried out their roles was as impressive as ever, and that helped the film to be a whole lot more enjoyable, and that’s why Cars 2 gets a 5.9 from me.