Cars 2 Reviewby Homer Yen (homeryen88 AT gmail DOT com)
June 26th, 2011
"Cars 2" - Mater's Tall Tales
by Homer Yen
When it comes to Pixar films, I think that we are allowed to hold them to a higher standard. Their traditionally high level of creativity has turned out one crowd-pleasing film after another. Their spark doesn't just come from the quality of the animation. It also comes from the storyteller's ability to weave threads of heartfelt friendships, dedicated teamwork, and can-do chutzpah. This is quite evident in the opening animated short, a treat in and of itself that precedes Pixar films. It's about Ken's & Barbie's first magical kiss that might never have happened if not for the heartfelt friendships, dedicated teamwork, and can-do chutzpah of the Toy Story gang. This vignette picks up after the end of "Toy Story 3". It's fresh and funny in so many ways and gives me hope that "Toy Story 4" may be in the works.
In my opinion, the "Cars" franchise is sort of the redheaded stepchild of the Pixar oeuvre. I thought that the original 2006 film was ok enough. And, if I took anything away from it, it was that old-school beliefs and tried-and-true icons deserved a place in modern America. Friendships were crafted, self-discovery occurred, and it was amiable enough.
"Cars 2" is still a good piece of entertainment but I wonder if it has jumped the shark. The film isn't even about Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). Its focus is on his sidekick, Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) whose mouth has more RPMs than his engine can produce. It eventually gets McQueen and himself into all sorts of trouble when Mater's lack of tact embroils them in a feud against an Italian Formula 1 named Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by John Turturro); in a World Grand Prix that will showcase alternative energy fuel; and in an international spy adventure.
That all sounds good - until you hear Mater mumble and bumble in his some-will-like-it-some-will-not country bumpkin histrionics. Mater, sadly, could be the Jar-Jar Binks of the Pixar world. However, to counteract that, we are introduced to a new character, Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) who is a British Spy that believes that Mater is a top American Spy. Honestly, Michael Caine could be the voice of a blender, and I'd still be enthralled.
What the film has going for it is its level of high-quality animation as the film moves from Japan to Italy to London. Some of it looks amazingly lifelike. Its best scene doesn't involve Mater or McQueen but Luigi (the auto repair car) who goes back home to visit Mom and Dad. There is something emotionally human about this scene that doesn't exist anywhere else. The rest of it is just fast driving, fast talking, and fast thinking by McMissile.
This really isn't "Cars 2". It's more like "Mater's Tall Tales". Have you ever checked those out on YouTube? His eccentricities are funny for 6 minutes at a time but not so lovable in a 2-hour film. Admittedly, though, I am quite fond of "Tokyo Mater". And, I'm also fond of "Speed Racer", which seemed to be as eye-catching and fun without the "idiot card" being played all the time.
S: o out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 1 out of 3
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