From June 29, 2012
I have to report that 'Cars 2' is Pixar's first real stinker. (It's still a lot better than most animated movies by other companies, though.)
The first time I saw 'Cars 2' was back in April and I almost fell asleep during it. I didn't like it but I thought I'd give it another shot and watched it again today--having been to Cars Land in DCA last week and having seen Pixar's 'Brave' a few days ago. I liked it slightly better the second time, but not much.
The first 'Cars' was made because of John Lasseter's love of cars, his interest in Route 66, and a real-life road trip that he and his family took after making 'Toy Story', 'A Bug's Life', and 'Toy Story 2'. The original 'Cars' was funny and new, made with real heart and soul. It was about something: learning to slow down and smell the roses, learning to find happiness in the little things, learning to be a better person, etc.
I don't know what 'Cars 2' is about. The only reason I can see that it was made was to gin up interest in the upcoming Cars Land at Disney California Adventure... and it certainly has done that. I guess you could argue that 'Cars 2' is an homage to James Bond films, but I don't see that as reason enough to have made it. You could also say that it's about car racing, what with the whole World Grand Prix thing.
There's not really much of Lightning McQueen in this movie. It's based a lot on Larry the Cable Guy, who I've never thought of as funny. His shtick worked in 'Cars', but it's too much in 'Cars 2'. He's funny in small doses, but can't hold up a whole film.
There's a fairly confusing plot thread involving an alternative fuel called Allinol.
The original 'Cars' seemed to come from a very genuine place. In 'Cars 2' it just seems that everyone involved was going through the motions. I don't know what it is. Apparently others thought the same thing, though, as 'Cars 2' is the first Pixar movie to receive a "rotten" score on www.RottenTomatoes.com. But this movie did do financially well, and it is spinning off a straight-to-DVD movie 'Planes' by DisneyToon Studios, so I guess Lasseter and the Disney folks are going to get their money's worth. In the short film 'Air Mater' they even say that someone should make a whole movie based on the planes. Oy...
That all said, I did like the music in 'Cars 2' by Michael Giacchino (I guess they don't use Randy Newman anymore). There is also an interesting surrealistic scene wherein Mater realizes that he's an idiot and everyone laughs at him, not with him.