Written by: Ben Queen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, John Turturro
Comic relief characters add levity to stories when the narratives hit their lowest moments and if done well, they can leave a lasting impression on audience members. Their purpose gets served with the limited role they take up in the story. These characters typically stay on the sidelines because attempting to dive deeper into them shows they have nothing else to offer other than providing comedic bits. Pixar has found themselves doing this twice to terrible results and Cars 2 represents the first of the two.
Yet another racing season has passed with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) winning another Piston Cup as he comes to Radiator Springs to spend some time with his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). Just as they get ready for a summer of fun, McQueen gets challenged to participate in a worldwide racing competition as Mater accidentally gets involved in a spy mission.
Beyond selling toys with the new cars introduced in this feature, I cannot comprehend why in the world Cars 2 exists. It lacks any real story and it shows the Pixar executives completely missed what made the first Cars movie meaningful. Instead of advancing the story of McQueen on an international level, a storyline they display but remains underdeveloped, they figured it would be better to follow around Mater as he gets mistaken for a secret agent. Instead of telling a much more impactful story with continuing with a character the audience has grown to love, they chose to take the comedic relief character and expose he’s nothing beyond fart jokes.
This film serves as the second Pixar film to receive a sequel following the groundbreaking success of the Toy Story second and third installments. Expectations must have been high and Cars 2 begins to show the more commercial and uninteresting aspect of Pixar, where any creativity goes away because of the merchandise sales they can get by introducing a whole new fleet of cars. It’s beyond embarrassing this film even exists because it does not feel like a Pixar film in any capacity. It possesses such weak storytelling from scene to scene that I could not believe how far down it sunk. The worst thing of all is it had a better story right there which they demoted to the B-plot. McQueen racing a variety of international cars gets those toy sales and certainly a more entertaining story.
The rather muddled commentary the film attempts to take on arrives in the form of alternative fuel for cars. Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) presents this new idea for fuel and thus creates this international racing competition to show it off. With it being a spy film, twists occur as a group of cars known as lemons want to ruin this new alternative fuel so cars will revert to utilizing regular oil. A message so deluded I could not comprehend whether the film was for the introduction of alternative fuels or bowing down to the big oil companies.
As Mater continues with his shenanigans and accidentally finds himself saying brilliant things in the eyes of the British spies assisting him, he gains weaponry and fights off villains. Now, I appreciate when sequels take chances and do not rely on being a carbon copy of the original, but something has to carry over from the first to the second film. The first Cars focused on finding home and racing became an integral part of the story. Cars 2 becomes about Mater discovering his worth through getting involved in these ridiculous spy missions. It completely misses the boat on the purpose of this franchise by a hefty mile. The course correction will arrive but everyone involved in this production of this feature should be embarrassed. You can truly see the Disney influence in the end product of this worthless merchandise commercial.
The only reason this film did not receive my lowest rating is from exactly two jokes that admittedly made me laugh. I will grant that to Cars 2. In the process of taking a comic relief character and making a completely empty sorry excuse for a movie, I must admit, it made me laugh a total of two times. Please, do not watch this film unless you’re a parent and want to distract your kids with utter nonsense and bright lights for a short period of time.