Cars 2

 

Disney•Pixar

 

Rating: G

 

Reason for the Rating: N/A

 

Plot Summary: Mater, the lovable country-boy tow-truck, is mistaken as an international spy.

 

PopFam Recommends: This movie doesn’t live up to Pixar’s own high standards or its reputation, but your kids will still get a kick out of it.

 

It’s just a relaxing summer back in Radiator Springs when Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is challenged to a 3-course international race supporting Allinol, sustainable energy. The gang from Radiator Springs comes with him to Tokyo to act as his pit crew. But Mater’s (Larry the Cable Guy) less than sophisticated habits leaves Lightning cringing. After Mater causes Lightning to lose the first race, they get in a fight and Mater packs his bags for home.

 

But meanwhile, Mater has been mistaken for an international spy, and vital information has been passed to him making him indispensible to British Intelligence. With the help of British Intelligence agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), he must foil the plot of an evil conglomerate seeking to sabotage sustainable energy and kill Lightning McQueen.

 

When I first heard the plot of Cars 2—Mater becomes an international spy busting the bad guys—I thought, “Really?” But I chose to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt because its Pixar and if anyone could pull it off, they could. Unfortunately, in this case they didn’t come through with their typical panache. Although the visuals of Tokyo, Italy, and London are stunning, the writing—usually Pixar’s strong point—leaves many things to be desired.

 

The plot itself is contrived and not believable. Had Mater as international spy been the plot of a 5-minute short or a direct-to-DVD movie, it might have held its own. But for a full-length Pixar film (and a painfully long one at that), it felt forced and contrived. Because the first Cars was very relationship-driven, the filmmakers had to work to make cars seem alive and likable. But in this sequel, the focus was action and no time was given to character, leaving the two new characters, Finn and Holly, as flat stereotypes.

 

The most enjoyable parts of the movie were the race scenes, a departure from the main spy plot, which simply made the viewer wish the writers had focused on the previous Cars’ strengths. Instead, the focus is on bumbling Mater being a bumbler, and this film won’t be very enjoyable for those who don’t enjoy his bumbling.

 

But of course, I’m holding this movie to a much higher standard because it is Pixar. But even recent movies from other makers such as DreamWorks (Kung Fu Panda 2 and How to Train Your Dragon) definitely have this movie beat. Kids will probably watch the movie and just think it’s a fun, fast action movie. But parents, who have come to expect entertainment that everyone in the family can enjoy and even savor, will be disappointed.

 

Bonus features abound on the five-disc combo of Cars 2, including digital copy, 3-D Blu-ray disc, plus the more mundane DVD and 2-D Blu-ray disc. Also features deleted scenes, Cars 2 documentaries, interactive maps, set explorations, director commentary, and (most fun of all!) a Toy Story animated short cartoon, "Hawaiian Vacation."

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Lightning was embarrassed by his best friend, Mater, and treated him badly because of it. Have you ever treated your friend less than friendly because they embarrassed you?

 

• How could you have responded better?

 

• Mater realized that people thought of him as an idiot, but ultimately decided to still just be himself. Is there something about yourself that you try to hide or change because you’re worried people won’t like you?

 

• What do you think would be a better solution than trying to be someone you’re not?

 

--AV

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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