Thursday Night Movie Club
Cars 2
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 24 June 2011

Directorsw: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Larry the Cable Guy
Owen Wilson
Michael Caine
Emily Mortimer
Eddie Izzard
John Turturro
Brent Musburger
Joe Mantegna
Thomas Kretschmann
Peter Jacobson
Lightning McQueen
Finn McMissile
Holley Shiftwell
Sir Miles Axlerod
Francesco Bernoulli
Brent Mustangburger
Professor Z
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Cars 2 photoThe James Bond franchise learned a lesson the hard way. Bigger is not always better. This is the biggest problem with Cars 2. The sequel to Cars goes for bigger. The jokes are still great, both verbal and visual. The movie is geared towards kids of all ages. The missing elements include more Owen Wilson, no Paul Newman, and no heart, warmth and tenderness. What remains centers around the tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). After a while, the character begins to grate on your nerves.

The main story involves espionage. Secret Agent Finn McMissile (Caine), an Aston Martin DB5, sneaks aboard an oil rig in the Atlantic. Sneaking around the rig, McMissile discovers his contact Leland Turbo (Jason Isaacs) has been killed and a television camera with the World Grand Prix logo on the side. The racing circuit is sponsored by Miles Axelrod (Izzard) who has turned himself into an all electric car and he has developed an alternative fuel source called Allinol. The spy ring and the racing circuit are somehow connected.

Cars 2 photoMeanwhile, in Radiator Springs, racing champion Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is taking a break from racing and has gone back to his adopted home for a little R&R. Mater watches a live broadcast of European champion Francesco Bernoulli (Turturro) bragging that he is the best race car in the world. Mater places a phone call talking up McQueen as the best car. The challenge is made. McQueen accepts. Let the racing begin.

McQueen appoints Mater as his crew chief and the two head off to head off to Europe to join the circuit. During the opening ceremonies, McQueen has the opportunity to meet the other cars on the circuit. Mater confuses wasabi for pistachio icecream and he bursts onto the stage where McQueen is giving an interview on live, national television. McQueen is extremely embarrassed. A wedge is driven between the two friends.

Cars 2 photoIn a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mater is mistaken for McMissile's contact. Mater is such a fool that McMissile is convinced that this is a great piece of deception by a master spy. His assistant Holley Shiftwell is not convinced.

In Cars 2, this spy story dominates the film, as does Mater and Finn McMissile. Lightning McQueen is relegated to second banana, or straight man to set up Mater's jokes. There are long stretches of the movie that do not include McQueen that one can't help wonder whether Owen Wilson took a three-month vacation while the voice-overs were being recorded. Either that or Wilson wanted too much money so he was signed for one-weeks worth of work.

Cars 2 photoThe audience is left with Larry the Cable Guy voicing Mater the tow truck. Mater is funny but there is something grating about the voice and the delivery of the lines that begins to grate on the ears after awhile. There is a great sigh of relief when McQueen is back in the story. This is rather unfortunate as the bi-play between McQueen and Bernoulli are the highlight of the film. The two take every liberty and every opportunity to hurl insults at each other as they battle it out for the circuit championship.

Only when the spy ring and the racing circuit come to a head during the final race does Cars 2 regain some of the heart, warmth and camaraderie of the original film. Mater is racing like the devil to get away from McQueen because he has a bomb attached to his chassis. McQueen is setting new speed records in an attempt to apologize for his earlier treatment of his good friend. Bernoulli sees this as a challenge from McQueen and he is giving it his all to beat McQueen once and for all. All of the elements come together in this one short sequence. Too bad the rest of the film didn't match the ending.