So yesterday I decided to hit the latest addition to the Pixar Family Cars 2, and see if Pixar could still make a good sequel. I’m happy to say that Pixar has once again crafted a fun, adventurous, and entertaining film that will please a lot of fans of the studio’s work. However, I must admit that I was surprised by this movie is the amount of maturity in this film and the fact that it is only rated G, but we’ll talk about that later.
Cars 2 starts out with a fast and flashy sequence of spy car fun as we watch the skilled spy car Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) infiltrate and oil rig fortress. After some exciting chase scenes, clever use of gadgets, and a catchy spy action tune, McMissile escapes and wonders who in the world can help save the world.
Cue Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), as we see the happy go lucky tow truck ride down the road and helping people in that innocent manner that made him famous. As he helps tow a poor broken down car, Mater gives us the back story of what Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been up to in the past, which mainly involves racing and winning the Piston Cup, now named after the Hudson Hornet from the previous film. By chance McQueen just happens to be in town allowing the tow truck and race car to meet back up, in a brotherly fashion, and embark on their classic adventures we saw in the previous movie. After a few minutes of nostalgia, a couple of glimpses of an upgraded Radiator Springs, and that rekindled relationship between Sally (Bonnie Hunt) and McQueen, Radiator Springs is ditched as McQueen, thanks to the assistance of Mater, accepts the challenge of the international race competition.
It doesn’t take long for McQueen and Mater to begin their international adventure, starting in Towkyo, Japan. Once they arrive in Japan, Pixar’s classic moral story begins to come to fruition as we see a classic friendship face the tests of the judgement of society. While McQueen kind of reverts back into the selfish car obsessed with image and reputation from the first film, Mater still provides us with a bounty of laughs as his stupidity and clumsiness is introduced to the world. Here is where I wish to tell you that Mater is the focus of this movie and fans of Mater will not be disappointed by rust covered country bumpkin car. Whether it is mistaking wasabi for pistachio ice cream, spilling stuff on the floor, or awkwardly participating in conversations he is confused in Mater is still as loveable as the first film.
The twist to this film though is more about the spy business integrated into this story and Mater’s role in the organization. I was impressed by how Pixar recruited Mater into the organization and how they kept his true identity a secret from McMissile throughout most of the movie. Pixar also made the effort to add another level of detail to the movie by also developing the relationships between Mater and McMissile as well as Ms. Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) the new agent in training. However, this is also a kids’ movie and most of the younger audience will not really appreciate the character development Pixar has in this film. Instead the younger generation was more interested in the action and excitement the movie had the offer. Pixar’s clever mind has once again found a way to make an idea work as they have brilliantly integrated weapons, martial arts, and gadgets into the car universe. I was impressed by how Pixar kept the scenes interesting and pretty diverse which kept the action and gadget use fun. Mater’s idiotic use of gadgets and innocent humor was also well balanced and fun which kept me and the rest of the audience into the movie.
This brings me to my next topic: the action has made the movie more mature. I was surprised by the amount of explosions, gun use, and death in this movie. A lot of the darkness, evil plotting, and shooting I felt was a bit too James Bond like for younger audiences and seemed to make this movie shift more towards adults. Also I felt the action in this film took away a lot of the emotional buildup the first movie had, which was one of the aspects I enjoyed most about that film. Although Pixar still had emotional development between Mater and the spy cars, it still was as impacting as McQueen’s emotional journey with Radiator Springs. I also was not as impressed with the racing scenes as in the first film. The spy action took a lot of screen time, which resulted in the actual race being replaced with small snippets of high adrenaline, engine roaring, or race car taunting, mainly from John Turturro.
Overall Cars 2 is one of the better sequels I have seen in a while and is still as fun and brilliantly shot as its predecessor. The voice work is well placed, the action is fun and exciting, and the comedy is still the same throughout the movie. However, I still miss that emotion between McQueen and the radiator springs crew, especially from Doc and wished they would have put a little more involvement with the rest of radiator springs. Overall I give this movie an 8.0 or 8.5 for that same Pixar magic. I again wish to remind parents that there is a little more maturity in this movie than expected and would probably say this is more of a PG movie than a G. Regardless it’s definitely worth seeing, especially for Mater fans, and would even be worth seeing in 3D assuming you don’t get sick and are willing to pay the price.
Until then keep enjoying the movies!