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Cars 2

A 2011 movie directed by John Lasseter and Brad Lewis.

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A Bit Curiously Thematic But Well Presented

  • Jul 30, 2011

When one thinks about Pixar, the term failure is typically no part of the equation and indeed what the powerhouse pixel-pushing studio might consider a disappointment would have its hordes of imitators doing cartwheels in the streets.  Keeping that in mind, Cars 2 could very well be the first Pixar film to put such theories to the test.

Generally speaking the first Cars never fully overcame criticisms that individuals outside of car culture (a group that naturally includes the children for whom the film targeted) were oblivious to much of the film’s charm.  In that line of thinking, the sequel further isolates itself from mainstream animation audiences by continuing the tradition of references only a mechanic could fully appreciate but this time combining them with the international spy/ thriller genre.

This fact is no coincidence as the script was written by Ben Queen (the creator of Fox TV's "Drive") from an outline dreamed up by John Lasseter and Brad Lewis.  The scope of this one is immediately much larger; ditching the backwater-feel of Radiator Springs for International flavor and manages to poke fun of a whole lot of cultural stereotypes in the process.

The plot actually breaks down into two parallel story-threads, a spy drama and auto racing action.  The spy portion, believe it or not, centers on Tow Mater (again played flawlessly by Larry the Cable Guy) and involves the simple-minded tow truck’s clueless meandering leading to all sorts of secret agent misunderstandings.  In the mean time our hero Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) agrees to partake in a grueling championship, The World Grand Prix, in effort to silence boisterous Italian Formula One car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro).

Like all Pixar efforts, there is some brilliance scattered throughout but it’s highly unlikely the intended audience is going to pick up on much of it.  For starters some of the spy angles reference spy films from the 1960s (spoofed to death by the likes of Mike Myers and the Austin Powers Franchise).  Adults old enough to recognize such bits will likely get a chuckle but expect these nuances to go largely unnoticed by the kids.  Additionally, some of the better dialog exchanges once again involve internal combustion engine references that, although accurate and quite clever to boot, will likely be lost upon the hordes of soccer moms forced to watch to placate the children.

Interestingly, the character roles have reversed this time around with Mater getting the lion’s share of the screen-time and McQueen serving as supporting cast.  For fans of Mater (a group that includes your author), this is a good thing.  However, proponents of the rusty truck may find themselves cringing at the overexposure and oftentimes annoying behavior.  McQueen actually becomes a bit more difficult to like as a result of this setup as he’s really presented as more someone who endures Mater’s presence rather than enjoys his friendship.

A few new characters are entered into the fold (aside from the aforementioned Italian F-1 car) including Finn McMissile; a British agent voiced by Michael Caine, Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer‚Äč) as Mater’s love interest and a new villain by the name of Professor Zündapp (Thomas Kretschmann‚Äč).

While Disney is typically cautious not to integrate political views into their pieces, there is a bit of fossil fuel reliance danger/ Big Oil propaganda to be found here.  Of course it could be argued that these are simply current global issues and hence integrated as a sign of the times.

The visuals are charming as ever with massive explosions, water effects, rich textures and so on.  Sounds are spectacular, on down to accurate engine roars amidst a pack of wide-open competition automobiles.  Pixar’s attention to detail is as impressive as ever and as expected, Michael Giacchino’s score is executed so perfectly as to be subliminal.

In all Cars 2 will likely manage to hold the attention of its intended audience as kids will clamor at the intense onscreen action and the sheer satisfaction of seeing their favorite personified automobiles in action again.  Fans of the first film will likely find more to appreciate including a global setting and anything but a rehash of the same plotline but it’s safe to say those moviegoers who were never quite enamored with the first film’s niche-laced charms should probably avoid looking to the sequel to change their opinion.

A Bit Curiously Thematic But Well Presented A Bit Curiously Thematic But Well Presented A Bit Curiously Thematic But Well Presented A Bit Curiously Thematic But Well Presented

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August 15, 2011
Bruce Campbell all day, great review.
August 15, 2011
Hahaha right on FM_A! I forgot you're a fellow Bruce Campbell fan.
July 30, 2011
excellent review, Jay! Glad you're back. I also wanted to add that the movie carried references to The Man Who Knew too lIttle (as another reviewer pointed out in our community) as well as Herbie. I liked the way you discussed how some of the clever humor will be lost in general audiences, the screenplay did feel dumbed down compared to other Pixar works. It was entertaining but rather shallow. Welcome back, Jay! Glad your issues with Verizon are over.
More Cars 2 reviews
review by . June 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
KA-CHAO!!!!! (Cue James Bond Music...And Turn On
Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the original “Cars”, it wasn’t bad but I thought it was the weakest Pixar production to date and so I was dumbfounded as to why Pixar would make a sequel out of it after “Toy Story 3” when “The Incredibles” (my second favorite Pixar movie next to “Ratatouille”) was just screaming for an expansion-sequel of its premise. I guess Pixar wanted to add more ‘zest’ on “Cars’” fanciful …
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Cars 2' 'Two Jews On Film' Celebrate Their 100th Review With Pixar's Newest (Video)
      'Cars 2 is the new 3D wonder from director John Lasseter.  John and his crew at Pixar have once again proven why they are the best at what they do.      To really enjoy this film, you have to put aside any ideas that cars can't talk, can't have friends and girlfriends, can't experience human emotions and can't be killer spies.  (Something the other half of Two Jews On Film, John my husband, wasn't able …
Quick Tip by . August 24, 2012
This movie continued the story of the first movie, but did not try to replicate the first movie. I like how this movie took the characters out of the country and took on a spy theme. They gave the story several twists and turns without losing the audience.
review by . June 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The first Cars film was a surprising delight.  The first (and until now only) Pixar film that had no humans to connect with still managed to have quite a bit of its own humanity and satire.  It had funny and delightful characters that gave off a family togetherness vibe.  Radiator Springs was a place that, once the first film was over, you felt like you wanted to come back to.  If there is one film where a sequel is something somewhat questionable, it is definitely Cars.  …
review by . June 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Vroom Vroom!
CARS 2   Written by Ben Queen   Directed by John Lasseter   Voices by Larry the Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Emily Mortimer and Michael Caine       Luigi: No fight more important than friendship.       CARS 2 marks the first time where I could not care less about a Pixar release. I didn’t buy the world made up entirely of cars in the first instalment and thought the idea of a race-car learning to slow down in life …
review by . July 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
U - 112mins - Animation/Adventure/Comedy - 22nd July 2011   Cars 2 picks up several years after the first with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) ruling the Piston Cup. This leads him to be invited to the first World Grand Prix where he can pit himself against the best of the rest and in particular Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) the cocky Italian stallion F1 car. McQueen's crew led by Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) gather together and set out on the trip of a lifetime to Japan, Italy and …
review by . June 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
For the last five years, Pixar has been on quite a roll, churning out one reliably solid animated film every summer. The last four have won Oscars for Best Animated Feature, and the last three (WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3) are, in my mind, stone cold classics. This winning streak and reputation for quality are what make Pixar’s latest, “Cars 2,” not just disappointing, but puzzling.      The hero of the first “Cars” film, a race car voiced by Owen …
review by . June 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         It seems inconceivable, but for the first time, the Disney/Pixar team has made a movie that misses the mark. I never thought I’d be writing these words. For sixteen years now, they’ve produced nothing but quality entertainment, and that’s not the kind of track record you come across every day. The Toy Story films were bright, imaginative, and fun. A Bug’s Life was cute and colorful. The Incredibles was energetic and engaging. …
review by . July 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
My family and I saw Cars 2 in the theaters and while the effects were outstanding (water! speed chases! explosions!)--the story-line was so-so.    Basically, a bunch of lemons take ownership of a secret oil reserves in the ocean--and they want revenge on the "pretty" cars that never break down.    It's a weak premise, and lacks the heart of the original Cars.     I didn't care about any of the new characters, which are basically James Bond-type …
review by . July 06, 2011
My family and I were eager to see Car 2 in the theater, especially my son and I.    The plot? A bunch of lemons take ownership of a secret oil reserves in the ocean--and they want revenge on the "pretty" cars that never break down.    It's a weak premise, and lacks the heart of the original Cars (which stemmed from John Lasseter's very personal "aha" moment involving a road trip and the realization of the importance of friends and family).     I …
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


Lightning McQueen (voice by Owen Wilson), Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and the rest of the gang from Radiator Springs return to the screen in this sequel to Pixar'sCars(2006). But instead of evoking a nostalgic vision of Route 66 through the American Southwest, director John Lasseter and his artists spoof James Bond films in a fast-paced adventure that mixes espionage and road racing. After a successful season on the track, Lightning is looking forward to some rest at home, but Mater gets him involved in an elaborate three-part international race sponsored by Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) to promote his new synthetic auto fuel. While serving on Lightning's pit crew, Mater inadvertently gets mixed up with two British secret agent cars, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), who are investigating a plot to sabotage the race. Myriad complications ensue before Lightning and Mater get back to the (relative) peace of Radiator Springs. The Pixar artists clearly had a lot of fun spoofing locations in Tokyo, London, Paris, and the Italian Riviera, and creating auto versions of sumo wrestlers, kabuki actors, Queen Elizabeth II, and a doting Italian mother. The use of 3-D adds adrenaline to the racing sequences.Cars 2lacks the emotional impact ofToy Story 2,Up, and most of the other Pixar features, but that will do little to lessen its appeal to its target audience, boys who love cars, driving games, and car toys.Cars 2is ...
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Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Release Date: 24 June 2011 (USA)
Screen Writer: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
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