It is not often that a movie sequel shifts focus and puts a supporting character as the protagonist, but that is what Disney and Pixar did with Cars2, opening in theaters this weekend. The dashing race car Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, who won the Piston Cup and learned about relying on friends in the first Cars rides shotgun to his bumbling friend Tow Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy in the sequel. The film takes the group from Radiator Springs and has them jet-setting around the globe racing in a grand prix and saving world from an evil villain bent on world domination. The film is a side-splitting hoot from start to finish and had laughs for all ages, but it has a dark underbelly. There is more violence and some scenes may be a bit strong for younger viewers.
Mater steps up to the center stage as he inadvertently gets his best friend, McQueen involved in a world-wide race. McQueen takes his pit crew from Radiator Springs—including Mater—along with him. Unbeknownst to them, Master spy Finn McMissile, voice by Michael Caine, has been hot on the trail of an international oil villain and mistakes Mater for an American spy sent to help. Hilarity ensues.
The movie is a mastery of CGI, demonstrating again that Pixar is at the top of the technology. This film is released in 3D, which I did not see, but from the camera angles and the digital mastering, I can imagine it was pretty effectual. I have long maintained that CGI is the only way to truly enjoy 3D. The color depth and textures add a photorealism to what is clearly a cartoon. The detail of the mechanics of how these cars work is still impressive.
It is also long. At 113 minutes, it is just under two hours, which for a cartoon is epic. Green Lantern wasn’t this long (though it should have been). The good news is that it doesn’t drag. The pacing and the action keep attention glued to the screen.
The only problem is that with the spy story comes more violence than one might expect from a Disney/Pixar film. There are guns shooting, missiles firing and explosions galore. Some of the characters meet fiery ends. The kids in the theater we were in didn’t seem to mind, but parents will need to consider this and make their own decisions.
Overall, I loved it. I thought it was funnier than the first, had just as keen of a message and introduced new characters without sacrificing the ones we’ve come to know from the first. This is a must-see for Pixar fans and anyone who loved the first Cars. And anyone who loves Larry the Cable Guy. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.