A lot of people think Cars is Pixar’s worst movie. I disagree. I think A Bug’s Life is far worse. Cars 2 is a real contender though. It’s boring, stupid and full of bad creative decisions. Aw man, now I’m going to have to watch Bug’s Life again and see if it’s still worse than Cars 2.
Cars 2 is about the world of international superspy cars. While Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is in a race, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy the Voice Actor) gets mistaken for an undercover spy. Finn McMissle (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) take Mater along on their mission assuming all the way that the dumb tow truck act is his cover.
Okay, bad creative decision #1: Making Cars a spy movie. The whole point of Cars 1 was to slow down and appreciate life. Now it’s a busy generic caper. Bad creative decision #2: Cars with guns. Something about this feels wrong to me. It’s not exciting, for one. Also once you put guns on cars, they’re not even really cars anymore. They’re toys and gadgets but less of a story, and much less of a movie.
Lightning becomes the B story to all this nonsense. You hardly see him race at all! Of course he doesn’t believe Mater’s spy stories so they argue and Lightning makes Mater feel bad and then Lightning feels bad for making Mater feel bad. They tack on this message of friendship but it’s got no heart.
The plot that ties Lightning’s race to the spies is ridiculous too. Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) is testing out his new alternative fuel via this international race. The villains are oil drillers who want to sabotage the clean alternative fuel. Bad creative decision #3: Political message in a Pixar movie. I know it’s all environmentally conscious to support alternative fuel, but come on. This is not the way to educate kids on driving a hybrid.
The pseudo-foreign locations look great, especially a Tokyo of cars. The Monte Carlo and London settings look nice too, though you lose so much color in the 3D version. Along with those artistic visions come immature cultural stereotypes too. Japan is full of fast talking anime characters on video screens.
Cars 2 is the most childish Pixar movie too. There are so many pee and poop jokes and car farts. It’s still lowbrow even if you call it leaking oil. Mater basically gets off in a Japanese bidet. It’s fine if kids like this but they’ll outgrow it. They like Toy Story and Up too but they keep watching them and buying the new special editions every time they re-release.
The short before the film is a Toy Story short, which is also silly but it has more inspired jokes than Cars 2. At least the “Toy Story Toon” helps me deal with Toy Story 3. I don’t have to accept that as the final word on Buzz and Woody, because we could always see them again in short form.