80%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

Not as good as the first Cars film, but still a decent effort from PIXAR.


A big oil tycoon creates a new clean fuel and decides to celebrate by having a world grand prix race of three races in three countries. Mater calls into a talk show and gets Lightning McQueen hooked into the race. The first race takes place in Japan and, while there, Mater accidentally gets involved with some secret agents who are tracking down a criminal mastermind. To make a long story short, Mater helps them figure it out by the end of the third race and it is revealed to be the big oil tycoon who was just trying to get cars interested in oil again instead of alternative fuel. Since the villain was the head of the races, the event was cancelled and there was never a winner.

Overall,  Cars 2 was an enjoyable picture, but nowhere near as good as its predecessor. Cars 2 had essentially all of the same characters as the first and was initially focused on racing, but then it took a different turn with Mater being involved with the secret agents. As Larry the Cable Guy is not funny to everyone, and can be somewhat annoying, it may have been a mistake making this film centered around Mater and not Lightning or a completely different cast of car characters instead. Mater is a fun character as has been made clear by the amount of shorts PIXAR has put out that are Mater-focused, but again he lacks something that most other main characters of PIXAR films have all had.  That being said, it did not ruin the movie by any means it just made it a little less interesting than the first film. In the first film, the viewer was introduced into the whole world of cars and got to meet all new characters and even the music was good. In Cars 2, the world of cars is already a familiar place and the only new characters are the two secret agents and one other race car. This movie did take the Cars world to a new level being around the globe instead of mostly in one little town.

The races in the film were held in Japan, Italy, and England were definitely the more creative aspects of the movie.  In Japan the setting goes through the typical tourist side of Japan with incredible technology, sumo wrestling, foreign bathroom stalls, and also the neon of Tokyo. This is where PIXAR put the pedal to the metal. In Cars there was the neon of the classic Route 66 town of Radiator Springs that had a great feel to it and was wonderfully designed, lit, and animated, but in Tokyo there are neon signs, LED signs, marquees galore, and advertisements as far as the eye can see. PIXAR made sure to have all of that in there and make it incredibly attractive to the senses and a bit overwhelming, just as it is in person. The globe-trotting visuals didn’t stop there, though, as the next location was on the Italian Riviera in a made up location of Porto Corsa. Porto Corsa was designed to be a combination of Monaco and the Amalfi Coast and the animators made it look authentic. The roads, buildings, and bridges were carved out of the coastal landscape of the town and the race followed suit, too. This stunning visuals here were mostly from this vivid setting and also all the oceanic views in the backgrounds that gave an incredible dimension to this part of the film. The final setting was London, which made sense with the film as the secret agents were of course British as a nod to the most famous fictional secret agent by Ian Fleming…Bond, James Bond. London was, of course, a great setting as well with the team at PIXAR being able to capture the beauty that that city holds with the amazing architecture, incredible statues and structures, royal emblems and even Big Ben was an integral part. While Radiator Springs was only on screen for a brief bit, it did have a few updates too, including a few of the places seen in the first film having been modified and reopened for business.

This movie did lose a couple things from the first, including both Paul Newman and George Carlin as cast members, as the both had unfortunately passed away since the first picture. More importantly, though, it lost the same love and feeling that the first movie had. The first Cars was about the open road and learning life’s lessons on it whereas this film didn’t have much in the ways of lessons besides don’t judge a book by its cover. Cars 2 ends up being more of an adventure and action film focused only on racing. That isn’t a bad thing; it was still a decent movie. Cars 2 was lacking a particular element that other PIXAR films have had: the love and devotion that goes into them so much so that the teams working on the film go out into the field and do their research. For the first Cars movie, John Lasseter had the teams take the trip up and down Route 66 and visit towns along the way. As far as any research really shows on this film the heart wasn’t in it as much as before.
This Cars movie also did not have the musical montages like there were in the first movie. Cars had such good appeal with some really good songs about cars, traveling, and the road itself. Cars 2 didn’t have that same flair with the music. Also the story was a bit lacking in character development. Lightning McQueen was obviously still changed from the first movie as he showed more compassion and understanding towards others, but Mater did not really change in the film besides learning that most others just laugh at him because they think he is foolish. Perhaps that is a major part of what the film lacked. In truth, it was still a good movie. It had a good cast, including adding new stars to the mix, the gags were still pretty funny and creative, and the animation especially the look and feel of the settings was still stunning and breathtaking. Another good job to PIXAR, but they still could have improved on this one. Cars 2 makes it as another decent PIXAR film, as well as having a good casual re-watch value to it.
Directed by: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis

Written by: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis, Dan Fogelman

Produced by: Denise Ream

Starring: John Lasseter, Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy

Distributed By: Disney/PIXAR

Release date: June 24, 2011

Run time: 106 minutes

Rated: G

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