Cars 2

(G) Voice talents of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer

Cars was nothing if not an entertaining romp, rife with automotive puns and perfectly tailored to its audience. Although this sequel lacks some of the transcendent moments that other films in the Pixar canon have given us (WALL-E and Up being prime examples), Pixar never seems to green light a sequel unless all the storytelling elements are present.

It’s been five years since Cars hit the theatres. This sequel portrays a souped-up, new and engaging chapter of the story which sees the inhabitants of Radiator Springs opened up to a world of adventure where Lightning (Owen Wilson) and his pals get to race in the aptly-titled World Grand Prix. This opportunity arises due to McQueen’s rivalry with arrogant Formula One champion Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro).

The adventure is in high gear from the opening sequence where we follow the exploits of suave super spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) as he discovers an evil plan by the dastardly Professor Z. Each frame puts McMissile in more peril but — to our delight in this spoof of James Bond — he comes out on top to begin the film with an intriguing question: Why are the lemons of the car world dealing in stolen parts?

It was only a matter of time before Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) had his moment in the spotlight. While McQueeen races in the first leg of the Grand Prix, Mater unexpectedly gets caught up in an adventure of his own; international espionage.

Mater gets involved with super spy Finn McMissile and his intel expert Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). When Mater is mistakenly marked with top secret information, McMissile needs to complete the mission.

Cars 2 is really Mater’s movie. There is a lot of humour in Mater’s fish-out-of-water antics that take place when the gang arrive in Tokyo and Mater’s mistaken identity as a super spy lands him at the centre of an international conspiracy.

As the film jumps around the globe, director Lasseter and co-director Brad Lewis unleash amazing action sequences. The James Bond-style spoofing also ups the ante on the first film.

One niggle is that the story is perhaps too contrived for its core audience. However, Lasseter and his team keep the story barrelling along fast enough for us not to be overly perturbed by this.

While the first film was all about diners, pit stops and American nostalgia, this new outing is about the sophisticated world of environmental issues. Happily, the key message of both films remains intact: Friendship is something to be treasured.

That’s a message people of all ages can take from the cinema.

Adrian Drayton

 

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