Cars 2 [2011]

Among the Disney/Pixar collaborations, the Cars films are sort of the black sheep. Same eye candy but with less finesse and artistic value, not to mention heart, these flicks seem created to sell merchandise. After all, I have trouble not buying anything with Lightning McQueen stamped over it, whether I need it or not (it’s like I have to have it!) After new animated classics like Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, the first Cars paled in comparison. Aside from striking visuals (a Pixar staple) and fine voice work from Owen Wilson, the animated movie never left “kiddie flick” territory nor made a splash with critics. The sequel even improves on visual spectacle, with eye-popping animated vistas of Italy, England and especially, Tokyo. However, Cars 2’s unexpected change of leading “vehicle” from the cocky-but-likeable McQueen to the mind-numbingly dumb (and stereotypical) Mater proved to be an unwise choice. Taking the formulaic storyline from the first movie and spinning it into a spy caper was brilliant on paper, but the execution didn’t fare as well: the oversimplified writing made this the most child-oriented film in the studio’s illustrious career. Cars 2 is bland, unexciting, and not at all risky (like Ratatouille or WALLE, for example). It won’t do much for adults like those two did, but will be just fine for kids who won’t be able to tell the difference.