Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'Cars 2' spins wheels

Two and a half stars

You know, it’s hard for me to knock a kid’s movie. Even as a film critic, I really take no delight in writing a bad review of what is really meant for kids. Unless the movie has some really bad message for kids I need to warn parents about, then I don’t really see why I should write a bad review of a kid’s movie. Pixar’s new film, “Cars 2”, doesn’t really have a bad message for kids. Also, its main characters are lovable, as usual. Pixar characters are always lovable. The film is about the friendship between the talking cars, Mater, a dim-witted but lovable tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, and his friend, the race car, Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson. They live in Radiator Springs, a little American town. Of course, this is a universe where there seems to be no humans. Everyone’s a talking car. Lightning McQueen happens to be a famous racecar, and he decides to take Meter with him to Tokyo for a big race.

In Tokyo, Pixar has some fun with the culture. It is fun seeing Pixar poking a little fun at the Tokyo culture. The sequence looks great. While in Tokyo, Meter gets mixed up in a spy-plot with two spy cars. One voiced by Michael Caine. They mistake him for an American spy. You see, there’s a plot about the cars in the race using a new fuel, but the evil cars want the cars to use their fuel. So they sabotage the race. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really relish political messages in children’s entertainment. I think teaching kid’s morals, old fashion morals, is fine. Like that good prevails over evil or friendship. Though, I don’t like some message about oil and the environment and alternative fuels and evil oil companies in a picture by Pixar. The subplot is rather unnecessary. So, Mater gets mixed up into the spy plot and is zoomed around from Tokyo to Paris to London. Every five minutes when I thought that maybe the film would pick up a little, they go back to the spy plot. The spy plot kind of falls flat.

I don’t like bashing a kid’s movie, as I said earlier, but this one kind of spins its wheels. Meter talks throughout the picture, and he’s not a bad character. As I said, the dim-witted pickup truck is lovable, but I’m not sure he makes the best main character. I can honestly say I was bored half-way through this picture. The kids in the theater didn’t seem to laugh once. Look, I’m not going to be one of those critics who say that everything Pixar makes needs to be a masterpiece or have a deep emotional core like the people who told me they cried at the end of ‘Toy Story 3’. I think a good afternoon at the movies with your kids isn’t a bad thing. I, for one, don’t believe that all children’s entertainment needs to always be great. Sometimes entertaining the kids is enough. That being said, I think this Pixar film is going to bore the adults.

If you want to bring your kids to this movie, it's not the worst thing in the world. There are some scenes of cars in explosions that might scare younger kids. I don't expect greatness from every Pixar or kids film, and I don't think a merely entertaining kids film is a bad thing but this film could use some repairs.

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