Some things are better left alone. The original Cars in 2006 was not one of Pixar's finest moments, but it was a movie with a good amount of heart. The standout piece of the film was actually the creation of Radiator Springs, the fictional town in which our heroes called home. I recall seeing that evening scene when all the neon was lit and exclaiming, "That would make a great new land for a Disney theme park!" Certainly, John Lassetter felt the same way. Cars Land and its premier attraction Radiator Springs Racers will make its debut at Disney California Adventure in 2012.
However, that is what is to be. Between now and then, we have to live with Cars 2. It's not a bad film. It's just an ordinary "B" grade movie, and that is the core problem. As a film that will mostly appeal to elementary school aged boys, the plot lines are a little too thick, with nuances too difficult to understand. Yet, let's be clear: this franchise will move a ton of merchandise. As an adult film, it is a fairly simplistic spy thriller lacking depth of emotion or intellect. Tons of visual appeal saves it from being a turkey.
This is Mater's movie. Whether you love it, like it, or laothe it, will depend on your view of him. Other characters, even Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen seem to play second fiddle to this country bumpkin tow truck presumed to be American spy. (If you want to see Mr. Wilson in a very good role, have a look at Midnight in Paris- just terrificly cast there.) Michael Caine easily proves to be the best of the bunch as the brave and dashing Finn McMissile. The bad guys include the sadly wasted vocal talents of the always great Joe Mantegna from Criminal Minds.
Pixar is normally known for excellence, but here, Cars 2 falls flat and will go down as their first mediocre effort. Still, go see the film- for the wonderful Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation short played before it. Maybe all this will cause the folks to go back to the drawing board, working harder to earn our dollars again.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)