MovieMantz Review: ‘Cars 2’
First Published: June 23, 2011 6:56 PM EDT Credit: Disney/Pixar
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Pixar’s First Clunker
“Cars 2” Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy Directed by John Lasseter
Up to this point, trying to pick my least favorite Pixar movie had been a lot like trying to pick my least favorite Beatles album. Oh sure, they’re all great, but there’s at least one that just isn’t quite as great as all the others. (And, in my humble opinion, that album is “Magical Mystery Tour.”)
So until recently, my least favorite Pixar movie had been “Cars.” Released in 2006, the computer-animated feature directed by John Lasseter (who previously directed “A Bug’s Life” and the first two “Toy Story” films) had a lot of heart. But it lacked the depth and the brilliance that defined the other Pixar greats, especially “Finding Nemo,” “WALL*E,” “Up” and the three “Toy Story’s.”
And it sure didn’t warrant a sequel, but a sequel is what we have. Directing for the first time since Disney purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006, Lasseter spruced up “Cars 2” with lots of bells and whistles, but he did so at the expense of losing the heart that made the first movie so worthy of the Pixar brand in the first place. Overlong and with a convoluted screenplay (written by Ben Queen and based on a story by Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Dan Fogelman), “Cars 2” is more than just a disappointment; it’s Pixar’s first clunker.
Where the first movie was a love story that was confined to the small desert town of Radiator Springs, “Cars 2” is more of a spy story that spans the globe. When Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) competes in the first-ever World Grand Prix, his trusty sidekick Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) gets mistaken by British superspy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) for an undercover agent. What follows for Lightning and Mater will take them through the streets of Japan, France, England and Italy, and the adventure will put their friendship through the ultimate test.
“Cars 2” features state of the art computer animation and the best 3-D effects to grace the big screen since “Avatar,” but the story is too dense and complicated to take an emotional hold – especially for kids. The first movie may have been a loose (and unintentional) remake of 1991’s “Doc Hollywood,” but at least it was charming and heartwarming. With the love story jettisoned in favor of explosions, a confusing plot and poorly defined characters, “Cars 2” goes nowhere fast.
At least “Cars 2” is preceded by a delightful animated short featuring the cast of “Toy Story.” Picking up where last year’s Oscar-winning “Toy Story 3” left off, “Hawaiian Vacation” is probably the closest we’ll get to a “Toy Story 4” for quite some time, and we’ll take it.
After 11 previous hits that grossed more than $6.5 billion worldwide and racked up 40 Academy Award nominations, it was only a matter of time before Pixar hit a bump in the road. Well, “Cars 2” is it, but it happens to the best of them (even The Beatles). At least Lasseter and his team can give Pixar a creative tune-up before they pull out of the garage with their next one.
Verdict: SKIP IT!
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