Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro
Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
So, Lightning McQueen (Wilson) and his pal Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) return in this sequel to the 2006 smash about animated cars.
This time round, there's more racing mixed in with a heavy side of industrial espionage.
When McQueen's goaded into taking part in the World Grand Prix by the flashy racing car Francesco (Turturro), he pulls together a team to help him win the day. On that team is hillbilly tow truck and long term friend Mater. But through a series of mix ups, Mater finds himself involved in Finn McMissile (Caine) and his quest to break an industrial spy ring.
And that causes rifts between the two friends - can the rocky road to winning bring them back together in this global adventure?
Let me preface this review by saying there's an absolutely brilliant short before this main event - and it's the return of Woody, Buzz and the gang in Hawaiian Vacation, wherein Ken and Barbie are left behind and the toys do their best to give them a Hawaiian holiday so the pair can share their first kiss. The short packs more laughs per frame than anything I've seen this year and it's just joyous - long may those shorts continue.
Ok, so that out of the way, let's zoom back to Cars 2.
I'll begin by saying there's nothing wrong with this sequel - it's bright, it's flashy and its animation is once again top notch (particularly the absolutely incredible global backgrounds which are brought to life)- and it's great entertainment for the young (and admittedly the young at heart.)
But I felt a little let down at the end of it - the adventures of Mater take top billing and sideline McQueen to the pitstop and I think in some ways, that's where it lacks a little heart and warmth as you'd come to expect from a Pixar flick. The film's very much a derring do tale of spies and espionage - even Finn McMissile is an Aston Martin (James Bond anyone?) and the opening sequence with McMissile on an oil rig is clearly an homage to the opening stunts and pre-title madness of all the Bond films in the franchise.
While those are great and showcase the most brilliant of animation, it suffers a little from a lack of comedy as it treads the usual "embarassed by my buddy abroad" and "Culture clash" ground. There are laughs and some smart visual gags here and there, but I think this one's more aimed at the younger end (and the kids at the screening loved it) than the whole gamut as other Pixar films are wont to do.
Caine is a great addition to the group and I'd welcome him back for more as he brings a suave appeal to his Finn character; McQueen's not as self absorbed as the first film and Mater really plays to the hillbilly tendencies.
Don't get me wrong - Cars is still very good Pixar entertainment but it's a little ADD as it's zips between stories but racing sequences are stunning and come vividly to life because of the 3D - it's just a shame this family viewing suffers from a lack of 3D in its characters which would have seen this winter blockbuster race ahead of the competition. (That's enough car related puns now, methinks).