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Ciao McQueen

Movie Review: Cars 2 (2011)
Summary: Lightning McQueen and Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race, but the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own.
Spoilers: none

Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy are back lending their voices in Disney Pixar’s Cars 2.

When racecar “Lightning McQueen” (Owen Wilson, voice) is challenged to the World Grand Prix in Tokyo by taunting challenger, “Francesco Bernoulli” (John Turturro, voice), his best friend and tow truck, “Mater” (Larry the Cable Guy, voice) is caught away on his own adventure when he is made part of a mission of international espionage.

This second edition tries to be a lot of fun, but is not what its forerunner was for the simple fact that younger viewers will be lost in a story that struggles greatly in its telling while trying to accomplish far too much. 

Having just about forgotten its primary audience (of younger viewers), the plot focuses on a substance called “Allinol” that promises to replace oil, a substance made by environmentalist high-roller-turned-celebrity, “Sir Miles Axlerod” (Eddie Izzard, voice).

With the stress and tensions of a huge race looming and an ongoing romance between Lightning and his girlfriend, “Holley Shiftwell” (Emily Mortimer, voice), Mater and Lightning will have their friendship tested. Mater, as opposed to Lightning, is the real focus of this film, and with some re-writing, this extravagant story could have gone far. 

But in a world where automobiles exist as their own permanent drivers without a trace of human beings (and yet they have doors?), a lot could have been done better—and we’re not just talking about the eyes of these vehicles and how they should have been drawn on their headlights instead of their windshields.

The movie’s dialog suits well the hasty storytelling, with its clefts of concentrated comic relief, in a complex plot that centers around the precursor to a war on oil. Do our kids need to hear about war over oil? Do they want to?

Beyond modified car-talk, like “Radiator Springs,” lemons, engine makes and models, and sputtering and leaking oil made over into the equivalent of car medical problems, everything but the message is over the kids’ heads, as well as their interest level.

With Pixar, you know the animation can’t be anything but great, but that won’t win too many points because this effort – though forgivably cute and very well constructed – just doesn’t have that crucial magic touch.

(JH)

Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: G (all audiences approved)
Directors: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Starring: “Mater” (voice) (Larry the Cable Guy), “Lightning McQueen” (voice) (Owen Wilson), “Holley Shiftwell” (voice) (Emily Mortimer), “Sir Miles Axlerod” (voice) (Eddie Izzard), “Francesco Bernoulli” (voice) (John Turturro)
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy
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