Of all Pixar's alti-verses, the one in Cars is the hardest to buy into.
Motors with eyes for windshields, pootling about a four-wheeled world
modeled on auto parts? It may be John Lasseter's pride and joy, but for
us it's missing some key components.
Internal logic for one. Charm.
Ok, so the 2006 original eventually won us over with its
fish-out-of-water storyline and its nostalgic passion for Americana. But
not so much that we were craving another outing for Lightning McQueen
and his tow-truck mate Mater, hardly the Butch and Sundance of the
Seemingly guessing as much, the Emeryville elite
seek to woo us with a pre-feature short, Hawaiian Vacation, that
joyously reunites the Toy Story gang. Sadly, like a clapped-out banger,
this gambit backfires. We love Buzz and Woody, while we merely tolerate
Mater and McQueen. Why waft champagne under our noses when we are really
To be fair, Cars 2 begins well with a Bondian prologue which sees suave
superspy Finn McMissile - voice Michael Caine, body DB5 - sneak onto an
offshore oil platform at the centre of a global gasoline conspiracy.
Goldfinger gags abound in the ensuing mayhem, raising hopes that
Lasseter has heeded the critics and upped the ante accordingly.
But once the action defaults to Radiator Springs, the movie springs a
leak, mostly by putting clueless hick Mater centre stage.
Yes, it is
Owen Wilson's hotshot racer who gets invited to compete in a World Grand
Prix that whisks him to Japan (Geishas, neon), Italy (Popemobile) and
Britain (Big Bentley, Tyre Bridge). But it's Mater who gets embroiled in
McMissile's mission, a convoluted caper involving alternative fuel,
millionaire mogul Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) and rookie agent Holley
Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).
Mater scuppering an assassination attempt in a Tokyo restroom. Mater
careering around an international airport. Mater infiltrating a villain
convention in elaborate disguise. Yes, we sure do get a lot of the
bumbling rust-bucket this time around, testing our patience for Larry
the Cable Guy's hillbilly schtick to braking point.
True, the picture is
punctuated by three thrilling race meets that find McQueen and
tutti-frutti nemesis Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) justifying the
now obligatory 3D as they negotiate spectacular Scalextric-style
What should be highlights though have more than a clutch of
afterthought, particularly during an extended London-set climax more
interested in the plastic attached to Mater's carburettor (some days you
just can't get rid of a bomb!) than who gets to the finish line first.
Cars' popularity with the kids ensures a large and enthusiastic audience
will turn up for the sequel.
Yet where Pixar's other films have
captivated across the board, Cars 2 could leave some grown-ups feeling