As co-director and chief creative director at Pixar/Disney John Lasseter (Cars, Toy Story) mentioned, this sequel was not about just cashing in on fans of the first film; they wanted to do something completely different with the second and if so, they accomplished it in spades. Car 2 is an animated action film. Despite my elevated expectations – I get excited every time I go to see a Pixar film as they have such a great track record – I have to say I really enjoyed this film. Not many belly laughs but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. I would even go as far as saying that I enjoyed the sequel more than the original, though admittedly I don’t really remember the first film all that much.
The story is like James Bond on four wheels. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is back again with his redneck and a little dumb friend, the tow truck Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). This time they are involved in a globe spanning spy mission. Lightning McQueen heads over to Europe with his best friend Mater in tow (tow…get it tow…he’s a tow truck, people!) to take part in the World Grand Prix. This Grand Prix is to determine who can lay claim to the title of the fastest car in the world. While over there Mater gets caught up in some international intrigue and has to choose between helping his best friend in the race or doing his part in helping master spy Brit Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and cute spy-in-training, Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer), in their top secret mission. Stuck between a rock and a hard place is Mater.
The focus of the film in this one has switched from Lightning McQueen to Mater. I was happy to see the dumb sidekick getting his chance to shine. Despite the spy story Cars 2 still is about the friendship between the two vehicles. Amidst all the action and racing about there is an emotional element to it that was very well done and that all can relate to.
Mater and Lightning McQueen have a falling out, is involved in an international spy mission and is in the midst of an identity crisis. Phew! That is a lot for a dim-witted tow truck to handle at the same time. Cars 2 is filled with noise. From Mater constant prattling on in his exaggerated Southern drawl to the high octane revving of the racing cars engines, there is nary a quiet moment to be found. Some might find this overstimulating while I found it invigorating. It is one pun and visual gag after another. Very little room to breathe. No pauses. These cars are on Red Bull, I think.
Besides silent moments what is lacking from this film are humans. There is nary a one to be found. Earth has become a planet inhabited by cars. It is odd and might put some off.
Visually the film is beautiful to look at. Especially if you see it in the IMAX format. Special focus should be paid to the cities (Tokyo, Paris and London) as they are stunning. The detail and vividness will knock your socks off.
Once again Pixar has made a film that will not only entertain kids but the adults that brought them to see it. A true family film.
-Cars Toon “Air Mater”
-Toy Story Toon “Hawaiian Vacation”