Cars 2 Review

ALTThere’s an unfortunate trend developing with the Disney Blu-ray releases. In my review of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides disc I noted that the billion dollar blockbuster’s home entertainment release was bare bones (leaving the real behind-the-scenes meat for an expensive 5-disc set). The same goes for this week’s Cars 2 a two-disc Blu-ray set intended for those head over heels in love with the movie or Pixar purists unwilling to leave a void in their collection.

As someone who fits into neither of those categories I found the set to be a straight up lemon.

In case you missed it this summer Cars 2 takes the simple coming-of-age plot of the 2006 original and injects with a dose of international spy adventure. Unlike the first movie Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) takes a backseat to Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) who finds himself unknowingly caught up Hitchcock style in a mission to uncover a nefarious fueling conspiracy (they live in a world inhabited by cars so oil is extra important). Overseeing the assignment are Finn McMissle (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) two ace spies who go along with Mater’s unique techinques in the hope of capturing a bad guy. Full of low-brow humor overly violent action and an odd life lesson (“No need for respect kids—if acting like an idiot is all you’re truly capable of then you should never have to change!”) Cars 2 is evidence that Pixar isn’t perfect. The movie’s animation looks dazzling but the confusing grating script makes for a truly displeasurable experience regardless of age.

The sparse perks of the disc are fitting accessories to the clunky ride. Accompanying the set are two short films: the pre-show Hawaiian Vacation a Ken and Barbie-centric romance story peppered with familiar Toy Story characters and a new “Mater Tall Tales” short Air Mater. ALTHawaiian Vacation is harmless light fun but a reminder that Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending for that set of characters and every new installment no matter how short feels like overkill. Air Mater is more of the same from the kooky hillbilly tow truck another dopy adventure that’s secretly a plug for Pixar’s first striaght-to-DVD movie Planes. OK not so secret—after learning to fly with some fun-loving fighter jets Mater lands on a runway and explicitly states “I wish they’d make an entire movie about these guys!” then winks at the camera. Subliminal marketing Disney.

The one highlight is director John Lasseter’s commentary where the jolly head honcho of Pixar explains every decision behind the movie. I have no doubt in my mind that Cars 2 like every incredible piece of filmmaking that’s been produced from Pixar’s creative brain trust in the past decade was crafted with a delicate care to story and a wild colorful imagination. Unfortunately and this is evident from the commentary it’s a mosaic of exciting ideas assembled into a lifeless property. Lasseter explains that he really loves spy movies and wanted to bring that passion to life in this movie. I’m hoping he gives himself another chance.