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Cars 2
3/5
dir John Lasseter
scr Ben Queen
prd Denise Ream
voices Larry the Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Jason Isaacs, Thomas Kretschmann, Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Stanley Townsend, John Ratzenberger
release US 24.Jun.11, UK 22.Jul.11
11/US 1h52
Cars 2
On an adventure: McQueen, Mater and Finn

larry wilson caine
See also:
Cars (2006) Planes (2013)
Showing with:
Hawaiian Vacation (short)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Cars 2 There's an astounding level of detail in the animation of this sequel to Pixar's iffy 2006 hit Cars. It's good fun but, with so many characters and plot strands, it also feels cluttered and rather chaotic.

Global daredevil Axelrod (Izzard) has challenged the world's fastest cars to a three-part grand prix, so rally champ McQueen (Wilson) heads to Tokyo with his pal Mater (Larry) to take on rival F1 racer Francesco (Turturro). But Mater obliviously stumbles into a sinister international espionage operation, mistaken for a spy by British agents Finn and Holly (Caine and Mortimer). As the competition continues to the Italian Riviera and London, McQueen frets that he has insulted Mater. But he's actually entangled in a mission to stop a mysterious villain from blowing up the racers.

The film has a frenetic pace that never lets up, with a constant barrage of witty verbal gags, visual jokes and enough characters to fill a 10-storey parking garage. Meanwhile, the action is non-stop, with a continual stream vrooming races and breathless action set pieces. All of this is eye-poppingly animated with serious skill; there's so much going on that we don't know where to look. Frankly, merely watching the backgrounds is thoroughly entertaining due to the astonishing detail and visual puns.

The voice cast is of course excellent, cleverly augmented by a range of top British thespians (Vanessa Redgrave as the Queen) and drivers (Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button). And there are hilarious touches throughout the story, such as the fact that the villain's goons are a gang of disgruntled lemons (including Mantegna's Gremlin and Townsend's Yugo). Intriguingly, this is actually Mater's story, and Larry keeps this ludicrously hapless character rather endearing.

The problem is that the nonstop mayhem around him is exhausting, with a story so diffuse that it's impossible to properly engage with the characters. No matter how likeable Mater is, his constant bumbling is painfully embarrassing, which kind of undermines the "be yourself" message. But of course, the bigger issue is the premise's internal logic. Amazingly, there seems to be even less of that than before, as the screenplay is packed with things that simply don't make any sense, even in a world populated by cars.

cert u themes, violence 26.Jun.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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