Originally published on Trevor Trove on June 19, 2017
TL; DR(eview) – Cars 2 is the pits. Get it? Like a pit stop. But seriously, don’t watch this movie.
In honor of the recent Cars 3 release, I decided to sit down and watch Cars 2. A fan of Pixar since the original Toy Story, I’ve seen every release save Cars 2 and The Good Dinosaur. The original Cars has pretty much been at the bottom of my Pixar rankings since it came out so when the sequel reviewed worse, I was never inclined to check it out (and when The Good Dinosaur was also panned, I skipped it too).
But I needed a video to return to my regular show schedule and so this seemed like as good a choice as anything.
And at least I have a new least favorite Pixar movie now.
Cars 2 feels like the direct-to-VHS sequels I grew up with: The Return of Jafar, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, or The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. Except at least in each of those cases, the original movies were good. Cars 2 takes the already underwhelming Cars, throws out the message of learning to slow down and appreciate life, and instead gives you a bad farce where Mater is mistaken for an international secret agent.
If this had been a straight-to-DVD movie, I’d be more forgiving but Disney and Pixar gave this a full release so they could, once again, make a ton of money off of the merchandising. Now I admittedly can’t put myself in the shoes of the intended audience: 5-year-olds who think cars going “vroom vroom” or Mater being dumb are endlessly funny. But I shouldn’t have to. The great thing about Pixar films before this was always there innate universality. Sure, kids would enjoy them, but there was also a story and heart there for audiences of all ages. The first Cars barely tapped into that and here, the aspect is lost almost entirely in favor of a recurring bit about Mater telling supposedly incredibly bright secret agents that he’s not one himself, and them constantly passing it off with a wink and a nudge.
The cast of the original (outside Larry the Cable Guy) is largely given lip service and probably appreciated the pay day that came with probably only a day or two of time in the recording studio. And Larry the Cable Guy himself fails to play anything other than the one note that he’s been milking for years, even as we’re told Mater feels bad about mucking things up.
And I’m not really going to go down the rabbit hole of picking apart the anthropomorphizing of the Cars characters but if you also have Planes and Boats in this world and the Cars can use THEM for transport, are they effectively being swallowed and then shit/puked out of their transports. Or rather, as a sequence might suggest, if Mater and Michael Caine’s Finn McMissile drive into a plane’s cargo door, did they just sodomize the plane? THESE ARE THINGS I SHOULDN’T BE ASKING ABOUT A KID’S MOVIE!!!