Cars 2 was a disappointment.
Yes, that’s what the general review was from critics. I was willing to give it a chance anyway because it was Pixar and Pixar has never done me wrong. I actually went in trying not to have any expectations. It still let me down.
The problem I’m having is trying to place why it is such a disappointment. Is it because I expected more out of Pixar? Or is it because it wasn’t a good movie?
When first trying to place what went wrong with Cars 2, I compared it to the original Cars. The first Cars overlying message was that it was important to slow down and appreciate the beauty around you. Lightning McQueen completely redeems himself by choosing not to win the honored Piston Cup in order to help save a crashed race car. It wasn’t Pixar’s best, but it still had some nice touches to it that made it a movie that both children and adults could enjoy.
Cars 2 completely throws out what Lightning McQueen learns in the first movie within the first few minutes of the film. He’s come back to Radiator Springs after winning his fourth Piston Cup and he’s come for some rest and relaxation with his friends and ladycar. Unfortunately, an Italian Race car (whose exposed wheels are so hot) mocks McQueen for not participating in a World Grand Prix and before you know it, he’s left for Japan. He brings along his redneck friend, Mater, after his ladycar insists on it. It feels like everything McQueen learns in the first movie (winning isn’t everything, it is important to slow down) gets thrown out because of a cocky Formula One race car.
From there on out, it becomes an action-packed movie that focuses around Mater. The only logic that I can come up with for this is because while McQueen developed fully during the first movie, Mader is still a dumb tracker-tipping yokel. Mater makes mistake after mistake because he is “dumb.” However, the film goes to great lengths to show that Mater isn’t dumb, he knows a lot about lemon cars (because they’re a ‘tow truck’s bread a butter’). His redneck nature is him just being himself.
There are some nice touches to the film that prove that is, indeed, a Pixar movie. When they go to Japan, there are a lot of fun things going on in the background (like a car buying a tire from a vending machine). However, what it lacks is that little bit of oomph that is both touching and entertaining. The last three Pixar movies have made me tear up because I really felt something for the characters. That was missing here. It has been replaced with James Bond-esque action sequences. Instead of the theme being underwritten throughout the film, McQueen constantly berates himself for not loving Mader for “who he is.”
In other words, Cars 2 wasn’t as sophisticated as other film made by Pixar. Some people are saying that Pixar is just “cashing in” because the Cars franchise makes them a ridiculous amount of money through merchandising. However, I’d like to believe I’m not as jaded. This movie was made purely for the audience of boys under the age of ten.
Is that a problem? I suppose not. The Pixar films are children’s movies. However, they’re usually really good films on top of that. Cars 2 isn’t. It is just a kid’s movie.