Cars 2: Pixar [Finally] Misses a Step!


The sequel for which I had the highest hopes let me down. Cars 2 is first time Pixar has failed to knock it out of the park. Instead of bringing back all the characters [caracters?] we know and love from the original, the citizens of Radiator Springs are relegated to less than cameos as John Lasseter’s sequel tries to turn Mater into James Bond.

When Sir Miles Axelrod [voiced my Eddie Izzard]devises an alternative fuel that will help keep the planet green, he decides to prove his new fuel’s effectiveness by holding the first World Grand Prix – a three race series to which he will invite all classifications of racing cars – including multiple-time winner of the Piston Cup, Lightning McQueen [Owen Wilson]. McQueen, in turn, is persuaded to invite Mater [Larry the Cable Guy] to join his pit crew.

In an extensive prologue, we see ace British secret agent Finn McMissile [Michael Caine] discover something untoward going on on an oil drilling platform [one of dozens] in the middle of the ocean and has a series of Bond-like close calls getting away. It seems that there are no records of the oilfield – and satellite photography has been blocked by means unknown.

Something big is going on but only a single photo of the Big Bad has managed to get out – and it winds up on Mater, who is immediately perceived to be a master spy by McMissile and his technical whiz partner Holly Shiftwell [Emily Mortimer]. Thus, while McQueen is trying to win a series of races – and face down a prickly grand prix veteran named Francesco Bernoulli – Mater becomes the hub of a spy movie.

Cars 2 is a good looking, fast-paced movie that does entertain. The problem is that it seems to be two movies trying to become one – the logical sequel to the original, a heartfelt movie about character and friendship, and a James Bond movie with guns and explosions and narrow escapes. The idea, of course, is to use Mater as the thing that brings the two ideas together into a unified whole.

Instead, the film seems unfocused and lacking in heart – both things being the reasons that the original was so successful.

Sure, there’s plenty of bright and shiny to keep the kids involved, and there’s a certain amount of fun in seeing Mater being mistaken for a spy, but the movie’s best line – ‘Finn McMissile: British Intelligence.” “Tow Mater: average intelligence.” – really sums up the film in a nutshell. Among the pantheon of Pixar hits, this is a clear miss.

Considering the time that went into making it, Cars 2 probably shouldn’t have gone the 3D route – its really not worth the extra three-to-five bucks for 3D – even really good 3D – when the story is so very 2D.

Final Grade: B-

Photo courtesy Disney/Pixar