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Cars 2 (2011)
Directors: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Writers: Ben Queen, Dan Fogelman, Brad Lewis, John Lasseter
Voice Cast: Larry "The Cable Guy", Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Brent Musburger, Joe Montegna, Thomas Kretschmann, Peter Jacobson, Bonnie Hunt, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Garlin, Tony Shalhoub, Bruce Campbell, Jennifer Lewis, Guido Quaroni, Vanessa Redgrave, John Mainieri, Brad Lewis, Cheech Marin, Jeff Gordon, Lewis Hamilton, Paul Dooley, Edie McClurg, Richard Kind, Michael Wallis, John Lasseter
Synopsis: Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race. But the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage.
MPAA Rating: G
Disney/Pixar's version of the "Fast and the Furious" has finally hit the big screen. Well not literally, but you get what I mean. In an era of sequels, Pixar seems to be flexing it's muscles after their recent hit, "Toy Story 3", with a follow up to "Cars." Does it work? Well yes and no. As I said earlier with the last "Cars" movie, you can't deny that Pixar has always been highly innovative when it comes to unique concepts and plot devices concerning animated movies. And "Cars 2" is certainly no exception here. Having said all that, I wasn't exactly sure how they could pull off a sequel with this franchise, but leave it to Pixar to prove me wrong on that. Kudos to them.
For those who are unfamiliar with the "Cars" franchise, Pixar has essentially created a cartoon world where humans don't exist. In this fictional universe, the vehicles that we use everyday take on lives of their own, and act out like any other human being would. Although some might question how a fictional world like this could exist, but it's a kid's movie, so you really can't expect much realism there. Incidentally, like Pixar's last green message film, "Wall-E", "Cars 2" also has it's own message about the environment; specifically fossil fuels. However before I get into that, I'll briefly go over the story first.
Unlike the last movie, "Cars 2" is centered around the tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) this time instead of his hot shot buddy, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). Lightning returns to Radiator Springs to spend time with his friends, after winning the Piston Cup Championship. However as luck would have it, Mater somehow ends up getting Lightning involved in a World Grand Prix race, where all the world's top racers compete to determine who's the fastest car alive; while sponsoring the allegedly eco-friendly fuel invented by Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard). Of course, Lightning feels bad about leaving Mater behind, as he knows the race will cause him to be away for a while. So at his girlfriend's suggestion, Lightning invites Mater to be a part of his pit crew during the race.
At first things seem to be going great until Mater gets mistaken for a United States spy. Now, caught in a world of international espionage, Mater must help out his new found spy buddies in Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), in preventing a diabolical villain from cornering the market on fossil fuel gasoline; while eliminating those that endorse eco-friendly fuels. Gee, what does this concept sound like? By now, it should be clear that "Cars 2" does endorse a eco-friendly message about the environment, but it's a helluva a lot more subtle than "Wall-E" ever was.
Don't worry. Regardless of whether you agree with the film's subliminal message about pollution, it's still a fairly enjoyable movie. I especially liked how "Cars 2" invoked a bit of a "James Bond" feel to it, as it was rather interesting to see play out.
To be quite honest, I wasn't exactly sure what to give this movie when I first saw it. Although I did I like the movie a lot after seeing it, I just wasn't sure if it was better than the first movie or not. Granted, the original movie had it's flaws, but the story was more on a personal level with the characters themselves, and the voice acting was arguably some of the best ever heard in a animated feature. Although "Cars 2" tends to focus less on character development, I actually enjoyed it a bit more. As I said earlier, I loved the "James Bond" theme that "Cars 2" incorporates, as it's highly unexpected.
Plus, it pretty much has all the things you'd want from a Pixar movie. It's funny, innovative and remarkably clever with it's dialogue. Granted, certain aspects of the story could have been better like the romance between Mater and Holley, but it never detracts from the movie.
In the end, I think most audiences will find "Cars 2" a lot more enjoyable than the previous one simply because it's more adventurous and fun. Unlike the last film where the emphasis was more on establishing who the characters were, "Cars 2" tends to focus more on adding to the universe that was created; while having a bit of fun with it too.
As for the animation, it's basically everything that you'd expect. The cars look very well animated, and sometimes too realistic (minus the faces). Plus, the high tech bond gadgetry to each spy car was a visual treat to say the least. Although I would advise against seeing this movie in 3-D, as the visuals are barely noticeable.
Overall, I'd have to give this movie a three out of four. I'm still not sure if I would say this is better movie than the first "Cars" film, but it's definitely a lot of fun to watch. And, I can imagine kids will probably come to love this film a lot more than the previous one, due to it's high level of adventure and comedic humor.