Review: Cars 2 (2011)

cars 2

The level of resentment displayed towards this film could best be worded as an overreaction!

Screenplay By: Ben Queen
Directed By: John Lasseter & Brad Lewis

The opening blurb I chose expresses my feelings about Cars 2 rather succinctly. From the moment this film was announced it was met with a level of derision that I felt was unwarranted. As the release of the film drew nearer the level of derision grew and grew until it reached a point that I found ridiculous. Truth be told, and I have no doubt that a lot of people will disagree with me on this, I believe that most people had decided they hated Cars 2 before they watched one second of footage from the film, let alone the actual film wholesale. When I finally watched Cars 2 I left the drive-in thinking I had watched a deeply flawed, but ultimately fun, kind hearted, and decent movie. It certainly wasn’t up to the very best from Pixar Animation Studios, but it was in line with some shorts and at least one feature, Ratatouille, from the studio that were decent films but never moved beyond the level of decent. More than anything I left my initial viewing of Cars 2 convinced that moviegoers had overreacted to the utmost degree and damned a movie that truly isn’t worth damning.

To get it out of the way right off the bat, Cars 2 is possibly the best looking film that Pixar has ever put out. The colors are vibrant and the animation has a fluidity and detail to it that exceeds just about anything else I’ve ever seen from Pixar. The framing and the composition of shots isn’t the best that I’ve seen from the American animation giant, but the actual animation itself is outstanding. A great example of the splendid animation found in Cars 2 involves the character of Professor Zündapp reversing out of a window and crashing into a giant inflated balloon. That single sequence was so finely detailed and lovingly animated that on first glance I thought it was a real shot. In that moment in time the animation enraptured me so that I believed what I was seeing, and that is a testament to how great the animation is in Cars 2.

The story in Cars 2 isn’t any sort of problem. Sure, the screenplay is full of logic problems, but none of them (outside of a sequence involving wasabi) are so illogical that they make me start getting mad while watching a movie about talking cars. Cars 2 is an action-adventure film, and at that I do believe it succeeds for the most part. The main goal of the film, I felt, was to be fun. I know that will come across as a cop out to some, but I think it’s an honest critique. John Lasseter and Brad Lewis’ film wants to use beautiful backdrops to highlight fun, and often funny, action sequences involving coolly crafted characters. Call me crazy all you want, but I had fun with the action, and most of the jokes, in Cars 2.

I suppose most of the vitriol towards Cars 2 is because of the character of Tow Mater. He’s voiced by a comedian most people can’t stand, Larry the Cable Guy. If people do not like his character I can understand not liking this movie as he is featured a lot in this movie. After my first viewing I kind of agreed with those griping about a movie with Mater as a lead. However, after my most recent viewing I find myself changing my opinion. Mater isn’t a great character, but he is a simply drawn, kind character who is easy to like. I found myself liking Mater and not finding him the least bit annoying by the time I finished Cars 2 a few hours ago.

I know that most people did not like Cars, but to be honest that is an opinion I will never agree with. I loved Cars, and while Cars 2 lacks the thematic resonance of its predecessor it’s still a fun movie. It’s not world class cinema, except for in the animation department, but it’s a decent film that wants the viewer to have fun. And guess what, I did have fun, even moreso on this viewing than I did the first time around. I still don’t understand all the hate for Cars 2, and I’m pretty sure that I never will. Call me crazy, call me a contrarian, but I liked Cars 2 and I’m not ashamed of that for a second.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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