Five years after the first in this franchise, Disney and Pixar bring Cars 2 to the race track for another, more polished, international adventure. Complete with much of the original cast in tact (both cars and vocal talent, including Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy) and with new vocal talents of Michael Caine (Fin McMissile), Emily Mortimer (Holly Shiftwell), Eddie Izzard (Sir Miles Axelrod) and John Turturro (Francesco Bernoulli), Cars 2 is an entertaining, fun family adventure.
A group of “lemons” seek to destroy Sir Miles Axelrod’s alternative energy source Allinol so they may profit from the giant oil field they’re controlling. Axelrod, to promote his “green” feul, invites the worlds best race cars to compete in the first ever World Grand Prix. But when cars start being “fired,” Mater, mistaken as an American spy allows viewers to embark on a James Bond-esque journey of espionage.
Unlike most sequels, the first film’s supporting actor, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) takes the wheel and steers the film despite Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) participation in the World Grand Prix races (that take place in Japa, Italy and England), an unusual move for a Pixar film and sequel especially. But the risk yields nice returns as Cars 2 is more endearing than its predecessor, which relied more on it’s Americana and nostalgic homage to the past. For example, Cars was about the race car of yesterday (Doc Hudson/The Hudson Hornet) and the race car of today (Lightning McQueen) brining together generations and closing the gaps of unfamiliarity. Alternatively, Cars 2 is a classic (albeit animated) spy movie that bridges “British intelligence” with “average intelligence,” with Bond-esque reference – for example, look no further than the introduction of “Holly, Holly Shiftwell.”
Cars 2 brings forth the comedic and sensitive characters that audiences have come to expect from Disney/Pixar. Mater is identifiable as an “average intelligence” character who seems out of place internationally and who desires to get the girl, Holly Shiftwell. It’s a character anyone who’s ever been to an unfamiliar territory or desired “the girl” will understand and empathize with. McQueen on the other hand doesn’t come off as endearing as he did in the initial Cars film, but warms up nicely toward the end and just in time for their obvious return to Radiator Springs.
The one-liners are campy and very car-oriented, the races are exciting – but the espionage is where anyone will find the real excitment, there’s something about a great spy movie that gets most everyone everytime. These cars come complete with some of the most interesting and fascinating assortments of gadgets and weapons (several of which will be on display from early on). But the real question is, will Cars 2 cause a similarly emotional experience, such as the one in Toy Story 3, or will it all end well in this spy animation? It just begs the question, “Is the Pope-mobile Catholic?”
If you have the option, skip the 3D, there isn’t much in the way of protruding objects, though it would have been nice to get run over on the race track (make a note of that Disney/Pixar, in case you decide to continue this franchise and make it available in 3D!). Cars 2 is rated G and runs 1 hour and 53 minutes.