After plunking down a shocking $64 for an adult 3D ticket, three child 3D tickets (Josh, Alex and their friend Colin), a large popcorn and a bottled water, I was able to sit down and watch one of the more personally anticipated Pixar movies to date: Cars 2. The original Cars was one of my favorite Pixar films, chiefly because it dealt with NASCAR which I follow closely. My sons also became big Cars fans over time. Josh more-so than Alex. All of us were pumped for this movie and I recently became a little leery based on the 34% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Building off of the story of the first Cars movie, Cars 2 opens in Radiator Springs with Mater and Lightning McQueen and his goofy sidekick Mater about to embark on a three-city World Grand Prix to take on some of the best racing cars in the world. The sidebar to the main plot thread centers around Mater and his mixed-up involvement in a British spy ring. The spy elements of the film are clever, including a solid turn by Michael Caine as super spy Flint McMissile, but take away from the overall animation brilliance that is the Grand Prix. The 3D visuals of the three major races in world landmarks such as Tokyo and Paris are so professionally crafted and spectacular to watch. The geniuses at Pixar took their spot-on re-creation of NASCAR to a new level in replicating the intricacies of open-wheeled Formula One racing. The 3D aspect works well in layering the race scoreboard and standing list on top of the action. You really do feel like you're watching a real race broadcast.
The critics that have labeled this film a flop for Pixar point out that the film has no heart and is not an original idea. While some of that may be true, it's still one of the most entertaining films of the year. The jokes about Japanese culture are hilarious and the dialogue throughout is still chock-full of solid Pixar-quality wit. I really enjoyed Cars 2 and don't view it as a bump in the road for the best motion picture studio in the world. (I still consider Up to be the weakest movie in the Pixar series. Just my personal preference.)
This movie should be seen in 3D (despite the outrageous prices) and if you remotely liked the original Cars, I would easily recommend this follow-up which actually features Mater more than McQueen. Cars 2 earns a very respectable 4 out of 5 JRs. Josh Rose gave it 4.5 out of 5 and Alex gave an impressive 10 our of 5 stars for this sequel.