Saturday, June 15, 2013

Movie Review: Cars 2

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Plenty of action and laughs to keep everyone entertained
Cons: A bit too fast paced and a bit too much Mater
The Bottom Line
Different from the first
Still funny; lots of action
Race out to see it




Mater Takes Center Stage in the Hilarious Spy Spoof Cars 2

It seems that when it comes to Pixar's film Cars people fall into two camps.  You either love it or hate it.  I happen to be in the love it camp, so you can imagine how much I've been looking forward to Cars 2.  It's a fun film that kids and their parents will enjoy together.

Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is looking forward to enjoying his off season in Radiator Springs.  But then he gets talked into signing up for the first ever World Grand Prix.  This event is being sponsored by Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) to show off his new Allinol biofuel.

Lightning invites his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) along for the three race tour which will have stops in Japan, Italy, and England.  He soon begins to regret that when Mater's lack of sophistication causes some embarrassing scenes.

But then Mater accidentally gets caught up in international intrigue.  Someone is trying to sabotage the World Grand Prix, and spies Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) think Mater is the key to figuring out what it is and stopping it.  Are they right or will Mater blow it again?

All the characters from Radiator Springs make at least a cameo appearance here with one notable exception.  In memory of Paul Newman, they wrote out his Doc Hudson character as well, although they gave them both a very nice tribute early in the film.  In fact, if you pay attention there are lots of nice nods to the original film and a couple of other Pixar films that add to the fun.

And make no mistake about it, this film is fun.  The laughs come fast and furious, although as fast as the plot.  As with the first film, there are lots of fun twists on the humans are cars thing, especially during a montage early on in Tokyo.  On top of that, this movie is definitely spoofing spy films, so that provides plenty of laughs.

Then there's Mater.  He is his normal goofball self and provides lots of laughs all by himself.  As much as I love him, a little of him can go too far, and at times I got a tad burned out on his antics.  Part of that is because I don't find humor in someone repeatedly embarrassing themselves.  Fortunately, the movie redeems that by the end, and I think I will enjoy that aspect more on repeated viewings.

The pace of the film is just a bit too fast.  Between the races and the spy story, there is really too much here.  A couple of slower scenes to relax and take it all in would be nice.

As long as I'm talking about what would have been nice, I missed the Radiator Springs gang.  Now don't get me wrong, I like sequels that expand the world of the original and don't just rehash the first plot, so I appreciate that about the film.  But I also like to see characters I loved from the first one, and many of those characters don't have much to do here.  There scenes are memorable, however, and I felt they made a great impact when they were involved.

Now I'm beginning to sound like I didn't enjoy this film with my nitpicks, and that's exactly what they are.  Overall, this film was lots of fun.  I've already mentioned how much I laughed at the almost constant humor.  I now have a goal in life.  I want to be Finn McMissile when I grow up.  He's just too cool for words.  The moral of the movie, which isn't about energy conservation but about accepting others (and yourself) for who they are, is spot on.

As always, Pixar turns computer animation into an art form.  No other studio creates a world as beautiful as Pixar does.  Yes, it's obviously animation, but there are a couple shots that are breathtakingly beautiful.

And the voice cast is great.  You forget you are listening to human actors and get lost in the world of the cars.

There is a short before the movie starts, the first in a proposed series featuring the Toy Story gang.  In this film, the gang works together to give Ken and Barbie a great time when they miss hitching a ride on Bonnie's Hawaiian Vacation.  I dare anyone who loves those movies not to smile at it.

Because of the spy parts of the story, this one does have more action and danger than the first movie, including some gun fights and other stuff.  I'm a little surprised it didn't get a PG rating since it seems a little extreme for a G movie.  Still, I doubt most kids will be bothered by what they see here.

Yes, I have some nitpicks with this film, but overall I really enjoyed it.  Cars 2 may not be Pixar at their best, but it is still a movie that the entire family will enjoy from start to finish.

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