Starring: Larry the Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
Director: John Lasseter
Few films studios can claim even half the hit rate of Pixar. For 25 years now, they’ve been hitting solid gold, year on year. They even made an Oscar category, just to give them prizes.
But while nearly all Pixars creations are universally adored, 2006’s Cars stands alone as the minor blip in a near perfect record. All of which made this, only the studio’s second sequel, seem even more risky than usual.
We pick up four years after the happenings of the first Cars, with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) having won his fourth Piston Cup and happily living in little-old Radiator Springs much to the delight of his faithful friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). Just as he’s settling back into the easy life though, Mater gets McQueen entered into a worldwide race to prove he’s the best racer there is.
Along their international travels though, Mater gets caught up with Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell (Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer), two secret agents on the trail of the shady dealings putting all the racers at risk and ends up having a much bigger adventure of his own.
Putting Mater front and centre of this foray into this petrol-powered parallel universe is the films fist major mistake. While Lightning McQueen was the dullest of Pixar’s heroes, Mater is just plain of annoying.
It takes just minutes for his idiotic tow-truck shtick to wear thin, let alone the length of his escapades into espionage. For a studio built on great heroes, Cars 2 simply cannot compete.
The script, another usual Pixar strength, doesn’t pull its weight properly either. In a most un-Pixar way, the script relies far too heavily on cheap gags, stereotypes and hilarious misfortunes.
It falls way to often into the trap of thinking that cultural differences, misunderstandings and. Well, Mater as a whole qualifies as top-draw comedy.
Add in a pretty meagre main story, a convoluted plot about alternate fuels and a globe spanning race, and Cars 2 defiantly has led to work with than its famous forbearers.
Entering the spy world of Cars 2 simply doesn’t do anything to deepen a universe already hard to love, and it leaves Cars 2 looking rather short of ideas.
What does work though are the visuals. Cars 2 is a beautiful film, with vibrant, bold colours throughout and some really gorgeous effects. Some of its new comers are valuable acquisitions too, with preening Italian racer Francesco Bernoulli (voiced to great effect by John Turturo) and Caine’s superspy Finn McMissile being the definite highlights of the show.
The biggest criticism of this film is that it just doesn’t feel like a Pixar film. The a-typical characters reliance on puns and overly earnest message is right up DreamWorks alley aimed at way to young an audience to really entertain in the same way Pixar usually can.
While not a bad film, even being entertaining at some points, it simply cannot match up to the pantheon of great Pixar adventures.
Cars 2 is at cinemas now.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith.