I could mostly think of only two things as I watched Cars 2; 1) how it would hardly have been any different if it wasn’t starring cute little cars, and 2) how annoyed I was by Mater (Larry The Cable Guy).
Yeah, I never really understood the point of making a film where the characters are cars when you aren’t going to, ya know, make that many car-related puns and jokes anyway. This fact bothered me in John Lasseter’s Cars 2 just as much as it did in the first one, and so did Mater who sadly was promoted to protagonist for this needless sequel. As if all those short films about him weren’t enough to irritate one planet.
All right, so in this installment the cars are secret agents. Why? Who knows? It opens by introducing us to Finn McMissile (the wonderful Michael Caine), a British spy who attempts to sneak into the base of the evil Professor Zündapp (Thomas Kretschmann) who is working on some sort of device that blows up the fuel tank of World Grand Prix-racecars, making other cars believe the fuel that’s being used, Allinol, is dangerous. McMissile is spotted by Zündapp’s goons and is chased to a watery escape after a James Bond-esque (What else, right?) chase scene.
Meanwhile, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who lives happily in Radiator Spring with his girl Sally (Bonnie Hunt) and his mate Mater, is invited to the World Grand Prix by Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) and the opportunity to win a race against the famous Fransesco Bernouilli, an Italian formula race car who rarely shuts up. He is voiced by John Turturro, funnily enough. McQueen takes with him Luigi (Tony Shalhoub), Sarge (Paul Dooley), Fillmore (Lloyd Sher), Guido (Guido Quaroni) and of course, his best friend Mater to Tokyo where the first part of the race will take place. As McQueen meets up with his new nemesis Fransesco at a party, Mater drives around like a moron and eventually ends up in the men’s room, where a spy car is being beaten up by thugs who work for Zündapp.
The spy car, voiced by Bruce Campbell (No, I’m serious), puts some device on Mater, causing him to get mistaken for the spy car by McMissile and his colleague Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). Mater thus embarks on some spy adventures, usually clueless as to what’s truly going on, though he does help his new colleagues out a few times (he knows much about automotive parts) and eventually they discover the true mastermind behind the fuel-exploding device.
The movie’s over now, logically, and I’m going to write a review. Fruitlessly I am trying to recall any car-related jokes and since I cannot, I assume there weren’t that many memorable car-jokes in the film. It was just a spy-film that happened to be starring cars. Still I don’t know why the characters needed to be cars.
While I wouldn’t consider Cars 2 much of a good film, there were a few things I liked; Michael Caine was as lovely as always, the animation by Pixar was as great as always and John Turturro was lovably weird… as always. But like I said, this is Mater’s movie. Why is it Mater’s movie? Because Pixar felt that he hadn’t gotten enough screentime to annoy the world with the first Cars, Mater And The Ghostlight, the video games or any episode of Mater’s Tall Tales. I’m sure little kids love him and all, but if I saw that blathering, stupid truck in real life I’d have him impounded pronto. Confession: I did not even like him that much in the first Cars when I was younger.
There is a scene towards the end when we are meant to feel sorry for Mater because he’s finally realized how much damage he’s been causing due to his idiocy. I was having a hard time growing sympathy for him at that point, I’m afraid.
Cars 2, while not horrible, is inferior when compared to most of the films Pixar has made. When I didn’t feel bored by it, I felt annoyed by it and when I didn’t feel annoyed by it something slightly enjoyable happened but this was sadly not often. Maybe you adults out there could take your children to see it – they’ll most likely love it – and who knows, maybe you’ll find more good car-jokes than I could? Me, I’ve seen it once and I’m thinking maybe I should have seen Apollo 18 instead or something. I’m not seeing this again, for certain.