Fans of Pixar might be disappointed to learn that, unlike their previous films, Cars 2 is for kids and kids only. Sure, some of the James Bond-type spy stuff might be appealing to adults at first, and the whole “oil is evil” subtext will probably go over the young ones’ heads, but overall the film mostly relies on childish toilet humour and can be a little annoying for parents to sit through.
This time around, famous racer Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) heads overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix. His best friend, the dopey tow truck Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), tags along with him to work his pit crew. While in Tokyo, the first stop of the race, Mater is mistaken for an American spy by British Intelligence agents Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer). As McQueen focuses on winning the race, Mater must go up against a group of evil “lemon” cars (mostly Gremlins and Pacers) that are trying to take out all competing racers, McQueen included.
There’s no question the animation in Pixar movies is far superior then in most animated films, and Cars 2 is no exception. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and the scenes of cities around the world are stunning. Even the 3-D is superb and adds depth to the picture instead of trying to throw things off the screen at you. This is expected from Pixar though, as is a story that adults and kids can both enjoy, and that’s where Cars 2 fails. The story is all over the place and doesn’t know which direction it wants to go in half the time.
Surprisingly, the biggest issue I had with Cars 2 was the voices. They sounded unnatural and didn’t flow the way they should have. This really put me off and at times I felt like I was watching a straight-to-DVD Disney film instead of something from Pixar. Considering this is John Lasseter’s first film in the director’s chair since the original Cars back in 2006, it’s a bit shocking to see such laziness from something so important as the voices.
Now forget what I just wrote. I brought my four-year-old son to a second viewing and, when it was finished, asked him what he thought. His response? “That was awesome!” And that’s all that really matters in the end.
Voices of: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
Directed by: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Top image: A scene from Cars 2. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios/Pixar.