Cars, the 2006 animated movie from Pixar studios, followed the adventures of arrogant race car Lightning McQueen (Wilson) after he crashed into the small, neglected town of Radiator Springs. While there, he learned about life in the slow lane, made friends, and discovered winning wasn’t the most important thing in life. Kids who saw the movie were enchanted by the idea of talking cars, hotels in the shape of traffic cones and flies that were actually VW Bugs, while adults warmed to a film that harked back to a simpler time.
Well, forget all that. This sequel jettisons the nostalgic charm of the original in favour of more action and high jinks as Lightning, prompted by tow truck pal Mater (Larry The Cable Guy), enters the World Grand Prix, a race taking place in various landmark cities to promote a new type of eco-fuel devised by millionaire Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard). Unbeknownst to them, the first race in Tokyo is being watched by British secret agents Finn McMissile (Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Mortimer), who believe something sinister is afoot and are to rendezvous with an American spy who has more evidence. However, they mistake redneck Mater for the real spy contact, so while Lightning is out on the track, Mater is having quite an adventure of his own.
While adults may grumble at the filmmakers’ more questionable decisions – moving the action from Radiator Springs (thus dumping many of the original supporting characters), turning the comic relief into the lead, making the spy story too complicated – young kids will still enjoy this Bond-like adventure, even if they can’t follow all its twists and turns. The animated Tokyo, London and Paris look amazing, and the opening sequence that introduces us to super-spy Finn is as impressive as the 007 movies it emulates. There are laughs, of course, plus nice vocal turns from Caine, Mortimer, John Turturro and Jason Isaacs, and while this isn’t among Pixar’s best movies, it’s still a cut above many of the animated kids’ flicks being made nowadays.
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