Cars 2

Sequel Has a Good Brand of Fuel, Not Great Though

         
 

24 June 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Pixar’s 12thfeature is a success but not a wild success. Cars 2 actually utilizes more mileage out of Larry the Cable Guy as Tow Mater, the tow truck, than it does from Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen. There are three races this time where McQueen goes up against John Turturro as the snooty Italian Formula One racer, Francesco Bernoulli, at the first-ever World Grand Prix. But the most satisfying delight comes from Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer as British spies Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, out to uncover a conspiracy involving illegitimate alternative fuel. McMissile and Shiftwell mistake Mater as an American spy whom inadvertently gets to the bottom of extracting key information time and time again. The script tries to squeeze in pathos between Mater and McQueen, but the brief endearing moments belong to Mater and his crush on Shiftwell. The incredulous relationship between debonair McMissile and Mater has its crack-ups. We’re talking cars here though which limits human traits and a personal resonance. But the story is often speedy and clever.

The original “Cars” (2006) is the only Pixar movie to date that I haven’t liked. Most of it took place in Radiator Springs, which I found arid and dusty – not particularly drawn in an eye-pleasing way. I enjoyed the sequel much better. But I had to review it in abominable 3D. The colors were bright enough to get over the dim sunglasses feel of 3D glasses. For those who are still dedicated to 3D, I will tell you nearly nothing flies out at the screen. There is some hologram-like dimensions in the depth of field, but that sense of field dimension is just as visible in regular 2D. 3D sucks, whatever. I was still able to enjoy the movie.

Liberating itself from the boundaries of Radiator Springs, the adventures of the sequel dash across Japan, Italy, France and England – all part of the World Grand Prix circuit. John Lasseter (Pixar’s foremost director beginning with 1995’s “Toy Story”) makes some nice touches with each city’s environment. For instance, the scenes in Japan have lots of amusing cutaways to Pokémon icons. Generally there are more enticing gadgets, figures and transport vehicles in the sequel.

Certainly the sleekness and glamour is a component this time, offset humorously by Mater’s beat up and dented auto. McMissile and Shiftwell think that Mater’s exterior is a disguised shell to cover up his dashing real looks. McMissile’s auto is very much a tricked out James Bond car in Prussian blue metallic. Shiftwell is a tad on the uptight and prissy side painted in orchid lilac. Mater isn’t just beat up, he’s uncouth rust. “Cars 2” is a ram bam affair, maybe too much ram bam, but the girl-crush Mater has on Shiftwell is rather sweet-tempered. When he gets a detailed wash in Japan, it’s more complicated than he imagined just to spruce up for a “date” with Shiftwell.

Die-hard Pixar fans should go. If you’re more selective on animation titles and don’t need to see them all, then know that this one is more in the mid-to-lower bracket compared to Pixar’s other eleven. To each his own. But I was happy, as well as tickled, by the inspired casting of Michael Caine. Good-natured as always is Owen Wilson, perhaps too good-natured and soft when opposite his adversary John Turturro. “Cars 2” passes the finish line as an amiable, if innocuous entertainment.

113 Minutes. Rated G.

FAMILY FILM / WHIMSICAL FANTASY / RAINY MORNING MOVIE 

Film Cousins: “Days of Thunder” (1990); “A Bug’s Life” (1998); “Cars” (2006); “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby” (2006).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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