Film Review – Cars 2

Cars 2 (G)

Directed by: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis

Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

I thought Pixar had suffered a head gasket leak for a moment. After the worldwide critical success of Finding Nemo, Wall E and Monsters Inc, the power studio decided to make a sequel to its enjoyable but possibly least impressive effort Cars. Sure, it was colourful and fun but paled in comparison to the imagination and snappy wit of Toy Story. It certainly did not appear to have the juice for franchise potential.

Buzz and Woody need not fear of being eclipsed by Lightning McQueen and Mater, but a shift in character focus and a quick re-invention of the formula and I am ready for a third Cars. Pixar have made enough tweaks here to keep things fresh, fun and tolerable. If this is the worst those folks at Pixar can come up with then sign me up for 100 more.

Popping straight into fourth gear with plenty of action and intrigue, Cars 2 opens with British intelligence agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) cheating death out at sea in choppy conditions to sneak pics of what looks like an ordinary television camera being smuggled on a ship. Meanwhile in the isolated but picturesque town of Radiator Springs, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is settled and enjoying a break from racing.

He is eventually coaxed back into action by suave Formula One car Fransesco (John Turturro) who wants to challenge McQueen in the first World Grand Prix. McQueen takes his simple but loveable best mate Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) on the globetrotting trip that includes Japan, Italy and London to be part of the pit crew. But once they leave their quaint town, McQueen takes the back seat and Mater drives the story.

Always the blissfully ignorant one, Mater gets caught up in international espionage as he inadvertently intercepts a bathroom exchange of vital information that has something to do with the camera that featured in the opening sequence. It could also lead to the identity of the car trying to sabotage the races.Veteran McMissile and his new partner Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) mistake Mater for an American spy, thinking his bumbling behaviour is just his cover.

The more McQueen races, the more danger he unknowingly gets himself into. With Mater distracted by his own adventures, the relationship between the cars is stretched. Mater must learn to be a reliable friend as he helps save the World Grand Prix.

Giving Cars a James Bond feel with pedal to the metal action sequences was enough to allow me to enjoy this briskly paced piece of cinematic candy. It is unabashedly style over substance but there are enough laughs to keep adults and kids interested. Cars 2 is as nice to look at as a yard full of Ferraris and Lamborghinis and still has plenty of revs left in it.

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