Cars 2 (U)

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Review byMatthew Turner21/07/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Cars 2 is beautifully animated but it's also frequently dull and painfully unfunny, thanks to an irritating lead character, an overstuffed script, several poorly conceived jokes and a plot that's probably too complicated for its target audience.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Lasseter, Cars 2 is the sequel to the 2006 hit, which was widely regarded as Pixar's worst film, until now. When global adventurer Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) challenges the world's fastest cars to a World Grand Prix, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his dopey tow truck best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) travel to Tokyo to compete, partly thanks to an on-air challenge by cocky F1 champion Francesco (John Turturro).

However, while in Tokyo, Mater is mistaken for a spy by British secret agent cars Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) and he's soon caught up in a sinister plot to destroy the competing race cars. Meanwhile, Mater's constant bumbling embarrasses McQueen and the two friends fall out after Mater causes McQueen to lose the first race.

The Good
As ever with Pixar, the colourful animation is jaw-droppingly detailed throughout and the backgrounds are so lovingly rendered (not to mention stuffed with sight gags and in-jokes) that they're frequently more entertaining than the actual plot. The Tokyo and London scenes are particularly impressive, not least because they're so accurate.

Caine is perfectly cast as the super smooth Bond-alike McMissile, to the point where you wish the film had been all about him instead. There's also strong support from Mortimer and Wilson, but the supporting honours are stolen by John Turturro, who gets the films only real laughs as the trash-talking Francesco.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that Mater is too irritating a character to really work as a bumbling lead; he was annoying enough as a supporting character in Cars, so quite why he's been promoted to the lead is anybody's guess. Similarly, the film is painfully unfunny, not least because the filmmakers don't seem to have a proper handle on the rules for their car-inhabited universe – why does the Popemobile need a Pope car in it, for example? And why would cars eat wasabi?

In addition, the plot is too complicated for the film's target audience and accompanying parents should probably brace themselves for a lot of “Why ...?” questions.

Worth seeing?
To be fair, undiscerning car-obsessed children won't be disappointed, but Cars 2 is something of a chore for adults, thanks to its irritating lead character and a painful lack of laugh-out-loud gags.

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Content updated: 10/12/2018 00:29

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