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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Cars 2 (3D)

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  3_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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   Cars 2  (3D)

The whole automotive gang is back, but this time it’s Mater’s show and the setting is Europe, far from sleepy Radiator Springs.

Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) the rusty, buck-toothed tow truck is suffering from self-esteem issues after accidentally causing Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson) to LOSE a race to Italian speedster Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro).  Stakes are high in the 3 – part World Grand Prix (Japan, Italy, and England) and the winner will be crowned the World’s Fastest Car.  The event is sponsored by alternative-fuel manufacturer Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard).

Unfortunately, there’s much more to it than that.  Spies, gadgets, explosives, and intrigue conspire to bog down the charm and whimsical nature of the characters so that they’re snagged up in frenetic, hyperactive exploits with lots of shrieking tires, pursuits, false impressions and general mayhem.  British super spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and his spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) thicken the plot by following a trail of race car sabotage.  Who’s doing it?  Who can help them find out?  Could it be…Mater?

Mistaking the tow truck for a spy, McMissile and Shiftwell take the rusty rube under their wing for a seemingly endless misadventure with lots of false starts, backfires, and stalls.

Get ready for lots of face…er…hood time for the friendly, slow-on-the-uptake truck, who revels at being a spy, but doesn’t ever quite understand the mission until…you’ll find out, but it might not be as much fun as you’re anticipating from this Cars sequel.

The visuals, however, are fantastic, original, clever, and almost perplexingly realistic.  3D is put to good use here.  Water scenes are NOT real water, a stunning accomplishment, but then again, this is PIXAR.

That’s precisely why the disappointment factor is so great.  This is PIXAR - The Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and UP Pixar.  Famous for great storylines that elevate its movies into more than just high-tech kid flicks, PIXAR really runs out of gas on this one.

Taking the action to extremes might appease the very young, or those with nano-second attention spans, or video game aficionados.  Others who’d like to spend time getting to know the various characters they were introduced to in the first film won’t get that chance.  Mc Queen’s girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt) barely makes it onto the screen.

Too much action equals no action at all.  It’s entirely possible to “glaze over” at the repetitious sights and sounds, the continual motion and smears of color.  A three-year-old promptly fell asleep after the first thirty minutes, amid frantic race sequences, gunfire and bombs.

Something is missing and noise can’t fill the void.  All cars need time to idle and our pals aren’t allowed to stand still for too long.

You’ll have a better ride if you happen to be a fan of Larry the Cable Guy, whose twangy voice can be heard from beginning to end.  Owen Wilson’s lines have been greatly reduced to nearly those of a guest star.  Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer try to inject both intrigue and appeal as savvy British agents – in sleek sports car chassis equipped with James Bond-like gadgets.

Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, who co-wrote and co-directed Cars 2, has created technical dazzle with little development.  Most of the film is a chase scene, loud, confusing, noisy, and designed to show off a variety of European cars (including a three-wheeled version).  None of them turn out to be as appealing as the fine fendered friends waiting for Mater and McQueen back in Radiator Springs.

Although Cars 2 has all of the ingredients to approximate a joy ride, its lack of a GPS (good plot/script) only serves to veer this vehicle off course.

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