CARS 2 (2011)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson, Thomas Kretschmann
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By:  Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Rating: G
Official Website:

Opening Day:
25 August 2011

Synopsis: Star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret spy mission, Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. Adding to the fast-paced fun is a colorful new all-car cast that includes secret agents, menacing villains and international racing competitors.

Movie Review:

It seemed that Pixar could do no wrong. After all, Woody and Buzz’s third adventure as deemed by countless critics (this fan, err, reviewer included) as one of the most perfect films ever made. Earlier in June this year, Pixar fans in America followed Lightning McQueen and Mater on an around the world adventure in the sequel to the 2006 film. Lo and behold, for the first time in Pixar’s glorious history, what looked like a blemish appeared. The latest offering from the award winning animation studio now hold the title of Pixar’s worst reviewed feature film to date.

Two months later, the film directed by Pixar’s honcho John Lasseter gets its theatrical release in Singapore (this is probably another discussion topic for another day, but notice how Pixar’s films often get delayed releases here?). And fans can be assured of this: While the movie isn’t as poignantly affecting as Pixar’s previous works (you must be a mean old Scrooge if you didn’t feel anything during Toy Story 3’s last scene), it is still an entertaining affair that reminds us why the folks at Pixar are the best in the business.

Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy return to voice Lightning McQueen and Mater in this colourful animated movie. They head out of Radiator Springs to compete in the World Grand Prix race. Throw in a couple of British spies, Italian mafia and a motley crew of illustrious vehicles, you’d get a tale of, hold your breath, international espionage that James Bond would be proud of.

Like the Toy Story series, it is evident from this animated feature that the budget to make Pixar movies has gone up. You can expect wondrously animated backdrops which transport you to the familiar sights and sounds of Japan, Italy and England. These countries, with the creative minds at Pixar of course, are “cars-fied” to fit the theme of the movie. It is easy to fall in love with the pop culture references scattered throughout the 106 minute film.

Like the first movie five years ago, this one features many, many, many cars (as well as vessels, jets and trains) that will allow the marketing folks to churn out lots of merchandise (by the time you are reading this, the limited edition vehicle from that crowd scene would probably have been snapped up by die hard toy collectors). Screen thespians Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer join the gang as agents on a mission, together with other recognisable names like John Turturro (as a self absorbed race car), Eddie Izzard (as an oil baron with a secret plan), Jason Issacs (as a spy in the sky – literally), Thomas Kretschmann (as an evil professor) and Vanessa Redgrave (as The Queen herself!).

Fans of Grand Prix races would also have fun spotting celebrities like Jeff Gordon, Lewis Hamilton, Darrell Waltrip and Brent Musburger. We are guessing that these cameos will be lost on many local audiences (not forgetting the kids who may lose interest after a while because all they are getting in this movie are talking vehicles).

Co directed by Brad Lewis, this automobile adventure may be coated with entertaining antics, but it isn’t as affecting as its predecessor. With Paul Newman’s Doc Hudson out of the picture (the veteran actor died three years ago), the theme of slowing down in life to appreciate the finer things is sorely missed too.    

Still, this is one movie well worth your time – especially when you get to see Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang in the short “Hawaiian Vacation” which precedes the feature.

Movie Rating:

(Though not as affecting as its predecessor, this is still one fun, zippy and enjoyable ride)

Review by John Li

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