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Cars 2 movie poster

Cars 2: Movie Review

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: G
Directed by: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis

Starring: The voices of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro
Released by: Walt Disney/Pixar

In Short: Frenetic action, a convoluted plot and one too many repetitive car-racing scenes make "Cars 2" stall out on the track.

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"Cars 2" Pushes the Pedal Too Hard

It was bound to happen. After an unbroken string of eleven amazing animated features — from "Toy Story" in 1995 to "Toy Story 3" in 2010, with favorites like "Monsters, Inc.," "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "WALL-E" and "Up" in between Pixar Animation has finally stumbled. But just a little bit.

And what's the telling sign that "Cars 2," the sequel to the charming 2006 "Cars," is just a bit off? It's the kids in the audience that send the message, who began squirming, chattering and generally losing interest in the relentless, ADD-inducing, complicated action zooming by on the big screen.

The film looks fantastic, especially when seen in 3D; it's a world travelogue, too, as our hero, Lightning McQueen, heads off to compete in the World Grand Prix. He and his rusty tow-truck buddy Mater get much more than they bargained for, however, as they accidentally become embroiled in an international superspy espionage caper.

A still from Cars 2 A still from Cars 2

It's that plot line that seems to lose the kids, for most of them have (hopefully) never seen a James Bond flick. Which means that director-writer John Lasseter and company have made much of the film for adults, rather than children. Add in yet another subplot all about gasoline versus biofuels and a slew of jokes that went right over the younger set's heads (particularly one about sushi and wasabi that had every kid in the place completely bewildered), and it's all just too much, even for us adults. Not to mention the fact that we witness not one, not two, but three car races, each one faster and more frenetic than the one that precedes it.

But the main thing that is missing from the "Cars 2" plot is the emotion. Pixar films have set the bar so high that we expect to be completely immersed in the characters, totally believing that these animated creatures are as real as any human being. That's the wondrous thing about films like "Finding Nemo" or "Up" or "Toy Story" or "WALL-E": we love the characters and their journey so much that by the time the credits roll, we've got tears in our eyes, sorry to see the heart-felt story conclude. But in "Cars 2," the feverish action and convoluted plot simply leave us gasping for air.

So if you absolutely love Formula One racing, spy movies and top-notch animation, then "Cars 2" is just the ticket to ride. But if you want to feel what Pixar films of the past have evoked, it's time to switch on your DVD player and re-watch one of their past masterpieces. "Cars 2" isn't one of them.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 06/23/11 CT)

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