Cars 2 is a 2011 American computer-animated spy action-adventure comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It is a sequel to the 2006 film Cars and the second installment in the series, directed by John Lasseter, written by Ben Queen and produced by Denise Ream.
The film premiered at Hollywood on June 18, 2011 and was released in the United States on June 24, 2011 in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D, as well as traditional two-dimensional and IMAX formats. A sequel, Cars 3, was released in 2017, which was generally considered an improvement over Cars 2.
Racecar Lightning McQueen and his pal tow-truck buddy Mater have had their share of adventures together, but nothing like what they experience when they head overseas for the first-ever World Grand Prix in Japan, Italy, France, and United Kingdom. While Lightning has his eye on the road to the championship, Mater takes a detour to international espionage when he meets British master spy Finn McMissile and stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell.
- It is basically a deviation from the first movie, which majorly focused around racing, whereas this one revolves around espionage; it would essentially be what would happen if a horror movie had a sequel that is mostly a romantic comedy.
- False advertising: The posters, cover art, commercials, trailers and even the cover for its initial DVD release all seem to give the illusion that the main protagonist would be Lightning McQueen, whereas in the actual film Mater, a side character who served as comic relief in the previous film, serves as the protagonist.
- One trailer for the movie also basically misleads its viewers into thinking the film would at least almost entirely be about international racing, whereas it turns out the actual film involves espionage, with the "international racing" storyline being more of a B or C plot.
- Despite having a G rating of all things, Cars 2 can get rather intense as much of the action sequences involving gruesome death, with Rod Redline being tortured and subsequently murdered by Professor Zündapp after the latter igniting the Allinol in a way that it explodes and incinerates him, Leland Turbo's crushed remains being shown in the form of a cube, and Finn releasing tiny explosives from his axels that get pulled into Tony Trihull's magnet-like object which then activate and explode, killing the latter.
- It should be noted that even Finding Nemo suffered from this tone despite being a G rated film as well.
- Most of the characters from the first film are barely in the movie, or in some cases, down right not in the movie at all; the only ones who have big roles are Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sarge, Filmore, Luigi and Guido (though even there, Sarge, Filmore, Luigi, and Guido don’t have as big of roles as they did in the first film, only Lightning and Mater do).
- The story heavily focuses more on espionage rather than racing; the former is also rather generic for a Pixar film, despite the studio being known for its unique and original storylines.
- On the topic of unoriginality, it has a use of clichés, specifically the clichéd "be yourself" moral.
- Tow Mater himself is essentially flanderized; in the first film he does act a little... wacko, whereas here he seems to act more immature and idiotic.
- At one point in the sequence at Italy, Topolino asks McQueen as to why he would ask Mater to be someone else during the trip; this sends a rather incorrect message, as it seems to frame, for example, parents to be in the wrong when children are required to be on their best behavior in public and behave differently in different situations.
- Almost all of the characters are underdeveloped, with the film barely giving us any time to get to know the new characters, their motives or even anything new about the returning cast. The only one that does stand out is Miles Axelrod, who is not only the creator of Allinol and the World Grand Prix but also the twist villain and mastermind behind the events of Cars 2, whereas the other characters can only be described as these:
- Finn McMissile as an expert spy and Holley Shiftwell as a spy-in-training.
- Francesco Bernoulli as the asshole rival of Lightning McQueen who hogs dialogue.
- Professor Z as the initial villain of the film.
- The residents of Radiator Springs as their stereotypical selves from the first film.
- McQueen as the big-shot racer and Mater's buddy.
- Mater as the main character of the movie.
- The idea of living automobiles showing concern for the environment and going green is arguably ridiculous, to which it comes off as pandering. It is disappointing because this is a film produced by Pixar.
- There is a lot of filler in this film, such as McQueen and co. exploring Japan after arriving there as well as a brief scene of Mater, Finn and Holley travelling in Paris.
- Cars 2 seems to have almost no impact on the film franchise as a whole, as most of its events are ignored in Cars 3. Although the latter does have some references to Cars 2, with a brief cameo from Jeff Govertte, there are so few references to Cars 2 to the point where Cars 3 practically forgets its events, one can watch Cars and Cars 3 and skip Cars 2 altogether and nothing important would be missed; if anything, Cars 3 is the one that feels like a direct sequel to the first Cars.
- Once again, the animation is visually impressive, especially considering how this was animated by Pixar.
- Some scenes are worth a laugh, notably when Mater mistakes wasabi for pistachio ice cream, followed by the scene with him in the bathroom. and the scene where Mater almost give away Alexander Hugo's identity.
- The concept of seeing cars go around the world is interesting, in terms of the film being part of the Cars franchise.
- Impressive action and racing scenes, with the opening chase with Finn McMissile and the lemons standing out as one of the best moments in the film.
- Amazing performances, with the new voice actors such as Michael Caine clearly doing a great job with the material they were given.
- The lemons' motivations were interesting.
- The new characters are pretty awesome, such as Finn and Holly.
- Great soundtrack by Michael Giacchino; on the topic of music, Weezer's cover of "You Might Think" by The Cars is listenable, so are "Collision of Worlds" are "Polyrhythm".
Critical and audience reception
Cars 2 received mixed reviews from critics, audiences and fans alike. It has a 39% score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the first and only Pixar film so far to receive a "rotten" score. The critics consensus reads, "Cars 2 is as visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but all that dazzle can't disguise the rusty storytelling under the hood." Metacritic scores it at 57/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews," while IMDB rates it at 6.1/10.
Awards and nominations
Despite the mixed reviews, it was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Animated Feature and Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Animated Movie, but lost to The Adventures of Tintin and Puss in Boots, respectively.
- One scene references Doc Hudson, whose actor Paul Newman had died in 2008 from lung cancer.
- Lloyd Sherr replaced famous American actor and comedian George Carlin, who had passed away from heart failure in 2008.
- This was the first Pixar film not to be nominated for an Oscar, probably due to its negative reception; similarly, it is also the first Pixar film not to be nominated for Best Animated Feature since its introduction in 2001.