Too many films to write-up. Still, nobody’s got a gun to my head, forcing me to do this- honest. So anyway, here’s my review of Pixar’s latest.
Cars 2 (2011)
I have a soft spot for the first Cars. It’s no masterpiece and certainly not one of Pixar’s best, but it’s entertaining enough. Then again, I liked the Michael J. Fox starring Doc Hollywood, which has a very similar plot, just with fewer talking cars. The original Cars still stands as one of the studio’s lowest rated films, so I figured this was them trying to make amends. Actually- no. No I didn’t. I’m smarter than that. There is only one reason why this film was made. Find out after the plot summary, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
“I call this move “what I accidentally did to my friend Luigi”
So, the story is as follows. Racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is invited to take part in the World Grand Prix, a three stage race to prove the effectiveness of a new biofuel called Allinol, championed by Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard). However, the focus of this film is not on McQueen, but his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as he gets caught up in a spy plot involving super-suave British agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). The story is as average as you can get. I’ve seen countless films, T.V. shows and cartoons use the “mistaken identity” spy trope. It’s bog standard. Yet, here we are in 2011 and Cars 2 is waving this in our face like it’s a new thing. As is the case with these films, the voices are all great. It was nice to hear Michael Caine and Eddie Izzard. I also welcomed the quick cameos from Bruce Campbell and Lewis Hamilton. The quality of the voicework is not the issue here.
So- that shit cliffhanger I left you on a paragraph ago. The reason why this film was made. It’s THIS. $10 billion from merchandising?! That’s fucking insane. It would be naïve of me to say that merchandising hasn’t played a part in most Disney productions. They’re a huge conglomerate with many different revenue streams. However, this has got to be the only Pixar production created solely to make money and shift toys. The thing I’ve always liked and respected about Pixar is that they’re an ideas company. They have a big story focus. There is no evidence of this in Cars 2. There is no exciting story to tell, or important issue to touch upon. It’s just some hastily cobbled together insipid spy shit to make a quick buck out of those unfortunate enough to have children.
Anyway, despite the devious schemes behind it, I still didn’t rate the film. Cars 2 makes the same mistake On Stranger Tides did by having the comic relief take the main role. Thing is, I didn’t find Mater funny in the first one. In this one, he’s insufferable. Every single redneck utterance made me want to claw at my own face until only sticky muscle and sinew remained. Luckily, Caine was usually about to even this out. I was also slightly bothered that they had cars dying in this one. The one in particular that raised an eyebrow was early on in the film where one of the characters has been crushed into a cube. Damn. That’s pretty nasty.
“How did the tow truck do it?”
Is there anything to like in this film, bar the voice talent? Well, yeah. As usual, the computer animation is gorgeous and the global vistas are genuinely impressive, especially the neons of nighttime Tokyo. The opening spy scene with McMissile is quite fun and the Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation short at the beginning is funnier than anything in the film. You may find things to enjoy in this film, but to me, this is the only time Pixar have talked down to their audience. It’s a kids’ film through and through with none of the usual multi-layering Pixar have become known for. It’s a loud, feature-length toy advert, which unfortunately seems to be going around lately.