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3.9 out of 5 stars
Cars 2
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384 of 428 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2011
I had a very unusual experience seeing this movie in theaters.

I watched it, I had a great time, I laughed, cheered, was thrilled, and the moment the credits started to roll the people in the row behind me IMMEDIATELY started spouting off how much they HATED it. I was flabbergasted. I was sorely tempted to turn around and ask them if we even just saw the same movie? How could anyone hate something that's so much FUN?!

But after thinking about it, I could see actually why they didn't get into it. Cars 2 is the first Pixar movie where you really have to 'get the joke' of the premise, or the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards. What this movie is, is the best James Bond movie of the last 15 years (not counting Casino Royale which transcends Bond movies to be just a great spy movie), with a bit of The Accidental Spy thrown in.

I LOVE Bond movies. The crazy opening sequences, the insane gadgets, the quippy lines. And Cars 2 hit pitch perfect parodies of every Bond standard. But you could never say of any Bond movie that it's got a deep emotional core, that's not how they're made. They're made to be balls to the wall fun and thrills, and that's what this movie is. Which of course makes it the polar opposite of the original Cars. It could hardly be more different.

If you get the joke, that this is a James Bond movie with cars, it's a riot. Loads of fun. It's not deep, it's not going to tug at your heart strings, it will not make your mother cry three or four times (as virtually ever Pixar movie ever made prior has done to my mother, I take her to Pixar movies with a bucket). It's just riotous fun. And I'm amazed that people are punishing Pixar for making a movie that's just pure fun. Granted Pixar is famous for it's deep emotional stories, and I suppose people expect that sort of thing every time. Even if you make a fun and entertaining movie, if you don't do what people expect, they bite your head off for it.

I went in with few expectations cause the early reviews bashed it to pieces, and I was frankly not that big a fan of the original movie. In the first Cars McQueen spends an enormous amount of the movie whining, and I found him generally unlikeable until fully halfway through the movie. It was a good movie, with a lot of heart and a message, but not one I would describe as a lot of FUN. Mater especially, a little of him went a long way in the first movie, and I was really worried about him being the star of this movie, because if a little of him annoyed me in the first movie, this one has 10 times more of him.

And yet, he actually annoyed me LESS this time around, cause he had something to do instead of just hanging around being Mater. They struck a perfect balance in his 'mater-ness' where the Accidental Spy nature of his story is charming instead of just annoying. And even more to my amazement, Mater's unique perspective DOES actually help solve the mystery. He's not just a bumbling idiot gumming up the works, he does actually help.

I was also constantly amused at the imagination that went into Cars-ifying the world. Even little touches like the swanky party in Towkyo (not a typo! ha!), the elevators are giant pistons that come out of the floor. I didn't expect it at all but once I saw it was it was so perfect.

To sum up, I have to say, I enjoyed this movie MORE than the original Cars. Yet at the same time I'll fully agree that the original is a technically superior film in writing and character, but Cars 2 is way more fun. If you go into this with the right attitude, that you're seeing a James Bond movie with Cars, that it's meant to be pure fun and embrace it on that level, there's a lot to love.

The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is it IS shallow. I won't say it's a perfect film on every level cause it's not. But it doesn't deserve the hate it's getting, it's just a fun movie, and there's nothing wrong with that. If it doesn't quite transcend to the levels of brilliance of The Incredibles or Wall:E, that doesn't make it BAD, it suffers only in comparison to other Pixar work, compared to anything else, it rocks. :)
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244 of 313 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Violence is everywhere in our current world. It's a fact of life, and as adults we all learn how to cope with it, avoid it, or confront it when we need to. I accept this fact. But I can't accept that in a movie rated "G", there are multiple scenes of violence, death, even torture. I'll need to explain these concepts to my child at some point, but I'd certainly prefer that I be able to wait until he's beyond the age of four. I'll be explicit so that other parents who are considering this movie will know exactly what they're in for: there are several scenes in which the "bad guy" pointedly tells his subordinates to "kill him" (directed a Finn McMissile and Mater). There is a full-blown torture scene in which a car is restrained, heated to the pain point, and then destroyed (the actual death is shown only as a reflection). There are a lot of guns, bullets, and missiles. There's plenty of hand-to-hand (or wheel-to-wheel) combat, which seems like a picnic after the other stuff.
I'm not anti-violence, and I appreciate a good action movie. But I'm 35 and my kid is 4. We have different perspectives on life. When a movie is rated "G", I expect something significantly less violent than James Bond.
The first Cars movie is among my favorites. It's a fantastic story that has a great message and doesn't rely on explosions. Are Pixar and Disney really so short of ideas that they need to blow things up to make money? Come on...I know they can do better.
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200 of 259 people found the following review helpful
To be fair, Cars 2 is not a dud. But it's not a hit either. As someone who's loved everything Pixar has heretofore come up with, it pains me to say it, but I think Cars 2 will be remembered as Pixar's first miss. It's one of those films that, if you've seen the trailer, you've already seen ninety percent of what there is to see in the movie itself. The rest, unfortunately, is tedium.

The plot, such as it is, is as follows: Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) invites his best buddy from Radiator Springs, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), to accompany him on an international racing event. In Japan, Mater is mistaken for an American spy by two British agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) who are investigating a criminal conspiracy involving oil rigs, alternative fuels and a mysterious secret weapon.

Every now and then, a film comes out where you look at it and wonder how it got into production in the first place. You keep thinking why didn't someone in the early stages come out and say "You know, this is a bad idea. A really, really _bad_ idea." And so many things about Cars 2 were bad ideas. Taking the story out of the intimate - and uniquely original - setting of Radiator Springs and sending it through Tokyo, Italy and London, which we recognize because they're already so familiar? Bad idea. Reducing all of the other residents of Radiator Springs, who were so memorable from the original Cars, to little more than cameos? Bad idea. Making the movie an action-driven parody of James Bond spy films? Bad idea. And last but not least, making Mater the center of everything? _Really_ bad idea.

Everything that made the first Cars film so memorable and enjoyable is missing here. Most particularly Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) who was part of what gave Cars its heart and gravitas. There's no character development in Cars 2, and no heart. There's just mindless action across dazzling settings, with repeated heavy-handed beatings over the head of _message_: "Friends are important!" and "Be Yourself!"

If the blame for Cars 2 failing to match its predecessor in quality can be laid at the feet of anyone, Brad Lewis as co-director/writer is probably most deserving of that dubious achievement. Why he was chosen is beyond imagining as his only previous work as a director was on a short video documentary on food and he apparently has no other credits as a writer. The original Cars, it must be noted, was co-directed and written by Joe Ranft, whose previous work as a writer includes a host of great films as The Brave Little Toaster, Oliver & Company, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Toy Story and A Bug's Life. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Mr. Ranft, having passed away in 2005, was unfortunately not available for Cars 2, but you'd think that Pixar would have at least tried to get someone of the same caliber for Cars 2.

Again, Cars 2 not a bad film, not in the strictest sense anyway. On a technical level, the look is both lush and dazzling. But beneath the dazzle, there's just no 'there' there. It's not bad; it's just boring. And because it's a sequel of a very good and enjoyable film, it's also more than a little disappointing. Recommended only for those who want to see everything Pixar and who have time to kill.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
We have come to expect perfection from Pixar. Most of their movies, especially those released in the last few years, have had such amazing character development on multiple layers that I have been left in awe at Pixar's ability to craft a story. Of course, the animation has gotten better as technology has improved, so that each movie is a work of art.

Cars 2 is certainly a visual work of art. Pixar has almost never failed to deliver on that point (with the exception being A Bug's Life, but that's another review for another day). As I watched bits and pieces of Cars 2 with my son this morning, I was amazed at how impeccably the lighting reflects off the cars' front bumpers. It's like being in a new car showroom!

HOWEVER, the story in this movie is so incredibly flat that it is almost painful to endure. In the original Cars, I couldn't get enough of Radiator Springs. It's a place that reminds us that there is still some good in this world. Cars 2 issues a stark reminder that there is still much evil in the world. I found myself wanting to find Radiator Springs and live there. In Cars 2, I want to hide from the world. There is no sense of nostalgia and heart and soul like there is in the original Cars.

I have also been impressed with Pixar's ability to keep politics out of their movies (with the exception of WALL-E, but again, another review...). Most of their movies have been based on solid family values, no matter which religious or political spectrum a person finds him/herself. Cars 2 fails on that point too. The demonizing of oil companies and uplifting of alternative fuels certainly enters a political forum. This kind of political viewpoint does not belong in a children's movie. Let's leave that kind of teaching to the parents, please.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2011
The top three rated reviews had really good points that I agreed with; here's my take.

The movie is visually stunning. I watched some special features ahead of time and learned about some of the graphical upgrades they made in this movie (over the first movie) and, as I watched the film, kept my eye open for the elements they discussed. It was a treat to look at. And it's true that they did an amazing job car-ify-ing the world - watching for all the subtle changes was a treat in itself.

As for the plot, well.... I'm not the kind of person that has to have unplumbed depth and intelligence in the movies I watch. Sometimes, you just want some fun. I felt that the plot of this movie is Good Enough; good enough to carry me through it without being totally bored, had everything tied together, and so on.

But I was watching it with my then-three year old son. He loved watching the original Cars movie, in which the scariest parts of the show were the gang of hooligans lulling Mack to sleep and then waking him up, and the 20-second clip of a combine chasing Mater & Lightning in a field. The meanest character was Chick Hicks, and his bad attitude was clearly condemned in the plot. The whole framework of the story was easily understandable by a 3yo, even if individual actions went over his head.

Because he loved the first movie so much, Cars 2 was the first movie we ever took him to see in the theater.
My son enjoyed the pratfalls even when he didn't "get it" (ie, Mater eating wasabi), and he enjoyed the car races and the fancy gadgets found throughout the movie. The question he asked the most, over and over, was "Why did he do that?" and "Why did he want to do that?"

But Cars 2 is a spy film. There are bad guy cars who actually KILL other cars. My son didn't even know what a bomb WAS until this movie. Even after explaining it, he still can barely grasp the concept of alternative fuel, and certainly not "alternative fuel that can be easily ignited", let alone the concept that someone would purposely sabotage someone else. And the idea of introducing something dangerous so that consumers would be hurt and then driven to purchase the safer option, thus making the villian rich? My kid is barely old enough to understand the explanation of what a lie is, let alone this complex plot of lies layered on lies. And for what - to gain money? Again, even at 4, he still doesn't have a firm enough understanding of money to realize that some people lust after it enough to hurt others for it.

There were many other parts of the movie that we had to explain:
-Mater dressing up as another truck, so seamlessly that you couldn't see it was still Mater.
-Voice "signature" activation on the bomb (ie why only one person's voice would work)
-The inside of Big Bentley (sorry dudes, maybe we're uncultured swine, but he was only 3, we haven't had The Talk yet about what clocks look like inside and the fact that there's a really big clock in this one city we've never been to) and what it meant that the gears were going around (ie "if those gears keep moving, Holley and Finn might get squished")

And others that used up screen time but went right over his head and we didn't bother to explain:
-Why it was a problem that Francesco said he was faster than Lightning
-That all the bad cars were jealous of "normal" cars (because the bad ones were lemons and nobody likes them)
-Everything to do with IDing the bad guy:
---The kind of engine he used
---The kind of nuts/bolts for that engine
---Buying special parts for a particular engine
---What's a "lemon" engine
---Oil leaks

I could probably put another page-scroll worth of stuff, but I only saw the movie once and can't remember it all without googling it. The point is, your 3-, 4-, and possibly even 5-year-old is probably NOT going to understand MOST of what happened. You might as well put it on in another language, or on mute, because 75% of the dialogue and half the actions are just going to go right over their head no matter what. There are just so many things they haven't had to experience or learn about, and at the younger age, possibly not capable of understanding, even if they're really intelligent - some sorts of reasoning just don't blossom until kids are a little older (6, 7, 8 years old).

I still haven't decided whether I'll be getting the DVD for myself, because if it's in the house, I know he'll ask to see it. I realize this sounds as if I (and my son) didn't like the movie, and that's not true. Even completely "not getting it", he's totally enamored of the thing. But if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have taken him - I'd have just seen it by myself, and let him wait another 3-4 years.
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61 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2011
Having to explain to my 4-year old Cars-aholic daughter why bad guy cars were out to "kill" other cars in Cars 2 was a little unsettling and unexpected. I was very surprised by the amount of automobile "deaths" and threat of "deaths" in the film. Cars were always out to get other cars. The spy genre was just not right for a Cars themed movie. My daughter LOVES the firetruck character Red, but he only appeared, what? A total of 2 minutes? I felt so bad for her. All those familiar and loved characters from the first film were castaways in Cars 2.

With that all said, we still enjoyed the movie. Finn McMissile became her newest favorite Car. She even calls him Finn McMiss-Sile, as Michael Caine pronounces it. We will still buy the BluRay and enjoy it at home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2014
This is not a kids movie - the violence was overwhelming (for an animated pixar movie) & I really felt it was just used to cover poor writing. They pulled guns at every chance, there was even a beat down in a bar. This was a James Bond PG-13 movie - not a G rated Disney flick...
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
If you are an adult and like James Bond movies with a touch of Transformers action, you'll like Cars 2. For everybody else, this movie was just wrong. As has been said by other reviewers, this movie drops everything good about the original one: the characters, the setting, the mood, the pace, the soul. My five- and three-year old daughters -- great fans of the first installment -- got up and walked away 20 minutes into the movie. Looks good, but no soul.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2012
The first Cars movie may be the best kids movie ever. It was fun loving and taught kids about relationship building, respect for others and how to learn from your mistakes. Cars 2 might of tried to teach something but, it was overshadowed by guns, hate, drug use and the intent to kill. There were fights, many cars were shot and several were destroyed using a laser. The scene that disgusted me the most was when a character was visually tortured on screen and at the end of the torturing he was put to death. Now I am a man that owns guns, hunts for food and have taught my children to respect the dangers of guns. I would not suggest this movie to anyone it has no values. I am not sure how this was rated G, had the same scenes done with people it would of been rated R. All of our children are smart enough to make the correlation between these characters and people. I am disappointed in Disney/Pixar.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2013
Extremely disappointed in this movie. My boys LOVE the first Cars movie. Lightning McQueen and Mater are everywhere in our house. I was excited to watch this movie with them, when they got it for their birthday but I was immediately extremely disappointed. We aren't super sheltered with the things our children watch. But when one of the first scenes shows the "bad cars" having killed/crushed a spy agent, I wanted to turn it off. We watched the whole movie and afterwards I thought I was going to have to detox my boys from what they watched. The first movie doesn't have "bad guys" and encourages kids to look outside the box and see the good in everything and want to help others. I didn't see a "theme" to this movie at all, except that it was showing bad behavior and some bad decisions were ok. We won't be watching this one again.
The only reason I gave it any stars was because Mater was still his funny self in this movie.
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