Review Legacy

Cars 2 (2011)

In the end, it doesn't even Mater

There’s one thing I unabashedly enjoy about Pixar’s worst film to date: The almost pornographic way it raises uncomfortable questions about the cosmology of the Cars world. Are all these vehicles of the same species? How does Car life begin and end? Why does their world so closely mirror ours when Car needs are so different human needs?

There are no good answers to these questions, and yet I must keep digging. It gets strange, man; each detail weirder than the last. I actually burst out laughing in an early segment when we see a murdered car that has been crushed into a cube. I choose to read it as a Simpsons reference.

So if you like poking fun at the absurd nonsense of John Lasseter’s Cars world, you’re going to have a field day with this one. But if there’s anything else you remotely care about, you’ll be disappointed, possibly even outraged.

The worst part of Cars 1 was Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater, an unfunny caricature who wore out his welcome in one film as a side character. For some reason, he’s the star of the sequel, pinned between a ludicrous James Bond parody and an unearned emotional arc as Lightning McQueen’s best friend. It’s just as exhausting as it seems on paper.

The story is utter farcical hogwash. For over a hundred minutes, the movie tries to maintain a plot built around idiotic misunderstandings and bumbling. Worst of all, almost none of it has to do with racing, the ostensible raison d’etre of the Cars universe.

(And if my vitriol is turned up to 11 here, it’s at least in part because of the movie’s role in ending Pixar’s Midas streak: Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 preceded this.)

The movie is competent on the visual front. Pixar’s technical proficiency and CGI chops carry the film’s narrative corpse. The lighting is neat; the sound design pretty solid; the exotic locales appealing.

Then again, lots of pretty things are ugly on the inside.

Is It Good?

Not Good (2/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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