Movie #117 2021: Cars 2 (2011)

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! On this lovely May the 4th I bring you… Cars 2. Could anything be further away from Star Wars in general? Probably not, I won’t lie. Anyway yes, I will be bringing you a review today about the most universally disliked Pixar movie possibly of all time. But is it really that bad? Let’s see, shall we?

Cars 2 takes place – as far as I can tell – not too long after the events of the first Cars movie. Lightning McQueen and his best pal Mater are still going strong in Radiator Springs, although Doc Hudson (the late, great Paul Newman) is no longer with them. As their days and nights are slow and sleepy, the pair of them catch wind of the ‘World Grand Prix’ that is soon due to take place in varying cities across the world. It’s not as straight forward as just taking part though, as Mater accidentally gets himself involved in something more sinister: an international espionage ring.

Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Spies? In a movie about cars? Oh, come on, for Christ’s sake. In an attempt to make the plot more ‘exciting’, they instead make it downright stupid.

Look, I get it: they wanted to go bigger with the sequel. However, this is proof that sometimes less is more. There’s one James Bond spoof-like story thread and one “World Grand Prix” story thread, which both become intermingled and quite confusing in all honesty. How anyone is supposed to navigate the ins and outs is beyond me, never mind a child. Alas, it seems as though the writers behind this one forgot who their target audience was, which is really out of the ordinary for a film from this studio.

It does, however, has it’s moment. I must admit that the voice cast do a great job despite the movie’s overall misgivings. New additions Michael Caine and Eddie Izzard do their absolute best, but it’s impossible not to wonder if any of them realised at any point that the script was below par…

Not only that, but I still kind of loved the animation here, especially in the “fight” sequences. (Who ever figured out how to make cars realistically fight in an animated movie is kind of a genius.) As a concept, it’s still utterly ridiculous and mind-boggling, but the visuals department prove their expertise by making it all look seamless somehow.

For me, there was simply less heart and less charm here in comparison to the first Cars movie. Not only is the entire plot completely stupid in general, but the fact that they just took the audience away from everything they loved about the first film seems so misguided. Spoiler alert: Lightning McQueen is barely even in this movie and his character is a complete non-issue. Taking the popularity of Mater and running with it seems like the right move on paper, but it never really translates on screen, and there are way too many secondary characters as a whole.

Whilst the visuals were done really nicely in regards to the scenes set in other countries, I longed for good old Radiator Springs’ small town spirit throughout.

Painfully average (if not worse), and one of Pixar’s lesser achievements. The hatred towards this film is completely warranted and you should just give it a miss – Cars 3 is still watchable even if you don’t watch this one.

Cars 2 is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating: ½

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