Cars 2 (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Cars 2 (2011)

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I never wanted to have to do this and in still pains me to even think it but the first time in 16 years I have not liked or enjoyed a Pixar film.  Thanks to Cars 2, their DiMaggio like streak of having critically acclaimed film after critically acclaimed film has been snapped abruptly.  Instead of another wonderful picture with heart, tight storytelling and wonderful characters, we are instead treated to a crass, soulless film created to sell merchandise.

Cars 2 tells the further adventures Lighting McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as the travel overseas for McQueen to compete in a worldwide Grand Prix to determine the worlds fastest car.   In Tokyo, Mater stumbles into an international spy ring determined to stop the nefarious plot to sabotage said grand prix and make the world even more reliant on oil.   Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), two British spies, mistake Mater for an American spy and have him tag along on their mission to stop the evildoers and save the world.

There are also subplots about Mater being an idiot and McQueen and Mater fighting but it is all very dull to write about and even more so to watch.  Cars 2 decides to put the star of the first film, McQueen on the side and make the story about the sidekick Mater and his adventures.  Much like I would never want to watch a show focusing on Kramer from Seinfeld or a spinoff about Mr. Smee from Peter Pan, a little of Mater goes a long way.

You know what else goes a long way? Tater tots. You just don't make a meal out of 'em.

Centering a story on Mater, a character’s whose small screen time goes a long way, was a terrible idea. The character is an idiot whose small town charm is supposed to endear, but after 1 hour and 53 minutes of this character, I was rooting for the bad guys to win just so he would go away.  I know there are many kids (and some adults) who love the character, but he does nothing for me, and watching a whole film where he is the star was torturous.

The film was still pretty to look but the script was just awful.  I expect these films to have a wonderful story full of good characters and funny scenes.  Cars 2 felt like it was written as an excuse to see how many new toys they could create for their billion dollar merchandising empire. Here is a small list of things I felt were really off with this script:

  • So many groan worthy puns.  Yes the world is full of cars instead of people we get it, stop naming famous people after cars.
  • A reliance on potty humor that has NEVER had a place before in Pixar films.  Did we need the scene where Mater wets himself or uses the bathroom or the worst offender, when a car falls into a septic tank?  This kind of humor are in films with no redeeming qualities and are a crutch for unfunny people to get a few chuckles, I expect SO much more out of this group.

Although I can now honestly say that Cars 2 is literally full of crap.

  • An actual call out to State Farm Insurance.  Never have I seen a Disney/Pixar film so blatant in shilling for their sponsors, but having Mater actually sing the insurance giant's theme song had me spitting venom.
  • A reliance on visual gags that went past the point of fun.  All Pixar films had some visual gags and they are usually well done but this movie wasn’t peppered with visual gags it was FLOODED with them.  Much like the puns and potty humor, Cars 2 seemed to rely on these gags too much because they had nothing else to go on.

Cars 2 is a giant misstep and the first time that I feel the company has made a movie for the money and merchandising.  The story was loud and uninvolved, the characters forgettable and charm was non-existent.  Cars 2 did nothing to change my first thought years back when I heard they were making a sequel, which was simply,  “what’s the point?"

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Posted by Ryan

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  1. I was actually looking forward to how Pixar might flesh out the Cars universe – since I saw that as a hard topic to tackle. My son is a huge fan and as such I have come to love Lightning McQueen and the whole crew (and am often tasked with playing the part of Mater in playing with my 3 year old son). I loved them because of what they meant to my son. Like how Calvin’s mom loved Hobbes.

    But boy did I feel like they let my son down this past weekend.

    Although I do feel Mater’s Tall Tales was pretty funny, despite McQueen only playing a small part in it – at least you knew what you were getting. Cars 2’s almost complete lack of McQueen seems unexcusable to me.

    • My daughters were also looking forward to it and I think for kids, the killer was the run time. If you are making a movie specifically designed at little ones, keep the run time to 90 minutes. My kids were getting restless the last half hour. The focus from McQueen to Mater was odd to me too, but apparently they know what sells.

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