It would seem easy to dismiss Cars 2 before even having seen it. To be honest, the original was just o.k., and a sequel sounds more like a merchandiser’s dream than an artistic necessity. Two notable losses in the Pixar/Cars family, animator Joe Ranft and Hudson Hawk himself, Paul Newman, apparently heavily influenced director John Lasseter’s approach, and make it hard to mark this as a crass cash-in. Unlike a lot of critics, I was willing to try and forget all of the films you could compare Cars 2 to and watch the film for what it is.
An approach I’ll probably come to regret
Cars 2 follows Lightning McQueen and Mater as they enter the ultimate racing competition, the World Grand Prix, presented by an oil magnate pushing a new alternative fuel, Allinol. When engines begin to blow out Mater finds himself drawn into a world of espionage and adventure by the Bond-like Finn McMissile and his partner, Holly Shiftwell.
Michael Caine’s turn as the aforementioned McMissile is convincing as dashing action hero, and the action sequences are top notch and well-paced, keeping you entertained without straining your belief.
For the most part
You also have to tip the glass to the Pixar references seeded throughout the movie and at one point it even looked like they would be able to squeeze an emotional moment out of the stone that is Larry the Cable Guy.
You knew he was going to get a beer. Mr. Cable Guy was a lot more tolerable than usual, but at times the idiocy for idiocy’s sake gets hard to take. Mater does have some funny moments, and as comic relief he’s acceptable, but it’s hard to justify making him the main character.
Also, when I hear his voice all I can think of is this
The main issue with the film, though, is the lack of that trademark Pixar “heart.” Sure, there’s the same “be yourself” lesson you find in every modern piece of media geared towards children, but there’s no emotional complexity at all. Instead they take shortcuts to their moral that make it seem like they’re making a poor imitation of their own successful formula.
I’m sorry, the very first “da bomb” joke wasn’t funny, and every successive use of it compounds into a larger and larger ball of horror that can only end in the destruction of all we hold dear.
This is your fault ‘the 90s’, all your fault
Looking at four beers, you may think I’m with the majority of critics in trashing the film. Honestly, it’s a fun and well-animated film, and you could do a lot worse by the chilluns.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Mater does something embarrassing
Take a Drink: for every Formula 1 vs NASCAR argument
Drink a Shot: for every Pixar reference (if you spot it first you don’t have to drink)