Cars 2

cars-2-2

C+

Cars 2 suffers from the reputation and filmography of its own filmmakers. While there is enough action and fun and you can certainly see the mastery behind its creation, it doesn’t have the heart or magic to stack up to previous Pixar films. But what can you really expect from a film starring Larry the Cable Guy?

The film starts a few years after the first Cars leaves off, and follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he is invited to compete in a world-class racing series using a new alternative fuel, advertised to be the cure for our gas addiction. On his adventures, McQueen brings along his best friend, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), whose back-country personality gives us the fish-out-of-water direction the film takes when he becomes embroiled in a spy thriller.

Absolutely the strength of Cars 2 is its wonderful animation and worldly settings. Where the first film keeps us in a small town environment, this time we are transported to Tokyo, Paris, London and the Italian Riviera. The photo-realism of these locations reminds us that even when they make a mediocre film, Pixar is still the greatest animation firm working today. In this scope, it is Pixar’s most ambitious and often its most beautiful work. And while the cars do what cars do best, go really fast, the action pieces work well.

The best loved Pixar films are able to strike a beautiful balance between comedy, action and an emotional core, but Cars 2 fails in two of the three. The film does have a nice creativity with its world populated by transportation vehicles, and in that regard it is certainly a step up from its original, but it doesn’t have a lot of originality in its humor. Part of this might be in the decision in centering the film around Mater, who is affable, but limited in comedic scope. Larry the Cable Guy is certainly game, but his brand of comedy seeps through the pores of this film, and personally, I’m just not a fan. The film even involves Mr. the Cable Guy’s trademark line “that’s funny right there” on multiple occasions, as if Pixar decided to treat the film as a star “vehicle” for a character barely digestible when he wasn’t the focus. See what I did there? Now that’s funny right there!

It’s hard to negatively judge a film for not being as good as its predecessors, but Cars 2 feels like such a departure from Pixar’s best that it is impossible not to. Kids will be thrilled with the car chases and they’ll understand the rudimentary humor, but they probably won’t know what is going on with the spy-heavy plot line. And there are still the inside jokes for the adults, but there isn’t quite enough substance to keep them totally committed. While a mediocre animation film isn’t completely out of the norm these days, it’s surprising for one to come under the Pixar banner. But then again, it does star Larry the Cable Guy…

tags: cars 2, larry the cable guy, owen wilson, pixar

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