"There's no doubt about it. Cars 2 really is the worst Pixar movie. It isn't terrible by any means, but even as someone who's willing to defend the other Cars movie, even I think this movie sucks."— Yoshi Player
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 as Pixar's 12th feature film. This was the final Pixar film animated with their old system, Marionette, before being officially replaced with Presto in 2012.
The film premiered in 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 a slight improvement over Cars 2.
Race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his BFF, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) 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, 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 (Michael Caine) and stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). During the time, Mater and the agents must attempt to uncover a secret plan led by a mysterious mastermind and his syndicate, which threatens the lives of all competitors in the World Grand Prix.
- It is basically a huge deviation from the first movie, which majorly focused on racing, whereas this one revolves around espionage. It would essentially be what would happen if a horror movie had a sequel that is a completely different genre like a romantic comedy.
- The world of Cars became more confusing and nonsensical here than it was in the first movie. such as in London where there are somehow fences on the side of the road; why are they necessary? If it is to stop cars from crashing into buildings, then why are they so small? Why are there sidewalks on the sides of the road? Also, what is inside these cars? How are they alive? Now the answer is necessary since the characters also board planes to fly around the world, such as Siddeley.
- By having Mater, a side character who served as comic relief in the first movie, as the main protagonist instead of Lightning McQueen makes the movie feel more like a spin-off or even a feature-length adaptation of Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales rather than an actual sequel. And this didn't work out for one particular reason:
- Major False Advertising: The posters, trailers, TV spots, promotional stills, concept art, and even the DVD cover all seem to give the allusion that Lightning McQueen would be the major main protagonist. And seeing that McQueen and Mater's strong friendship is meant to be the film's main emotional center, having Lightning join the main espionage plot could've taken far better advantage of that. And not only Lightning McQueen is not the real main character, but he's also more of a minor character considering his little screentime.
- One trailer and premise for the movie also basically misleads its viewers into thinking the film would at least be almost entirely 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.
- One main problem with the movie is that despite having a G-rating of all things by the MPA rating system rather than a much safer PG, it can get rather too dark and intense as much of the action sequences involve gruesome deaths, some of which are onscreen, with Rod Redline being tortured and subsequently destroyed 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, the Pacer and Trunkov killed from the elevator building after trying to fight Finn, and Finn releasing explosives that stick onto Tony Trihull's giant magnet which then promptly explode, killing the latter. This holds the record for having the most kill counts in a Pixar film.
- It should be noted that even other Pixar films, like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles suffered from this tone despite being a G and PG-rated films respectively as well.
- This caused most animated movies after this to all receive PG ratings, including G-level titles regardless of content, except for some movies.
- To be fair, some Pixar films have a higher kill count, but all of these were at least tried to be off-screen and not afraid to show it.
- A lot of the characters from the first film are barely in the movie, or in some cases, downright not in the movie at all such as Doc Hudson (except aside from a few mentions and advertisements), Chick Hicks (despite that he does appear in the film's video game), Strip "The King" Weathers, and the Tractors; the only ones who have big roles are Lightning, Mater, Sarge, Fillmore, Luigi, and Guido (though even there, Sarge, Fillmore, Luigi, and Guido don't have big purposes as they did in the first film, like Lightning and Mater do).
- Due to Joe Ranft's death in August 2005 (nearly ten months and one year before the release of the first film), Red doesn't have any new lines, just so this character couldn't play the semi-major roles.
- Paul Newman's retirement and then death in 2008 led to Doc Hudson being written off as deceased.
- Still some obnoxious jokes and fart humor that falls flat, like when Mater farts after he exits the bathroom.
- The spy plot is rather generic for a Pixar film standard, despite the animation studio being known for its unique and original concept and storylines.
- On the topic of unoriginality, it used a lot of clichés, specifically the "be yourself" moral cliché, the "twist villain" cliché, and action-movie clichés too, more notable than simple Pixar clichés.
- Besides that, the spy and racing storyline would've made sense for either separate or the acts.
- Tow Mater himself is essentially flanderized and out of character; in the first film, he was a silly comic relief and likable goofball with a big heart, but however, in this movie, he acts way more immature and idiotic to the point where he becomes incredibly annoying and unlikable sometimes.
- Fortunately, he redeemed himself in Cars 3, although he didn't appear much as he did here.
- At one point in the sequence at the small village of Carsoli, near Porto Corsa, Italy, Uncle Topolino asks McQueen to why he would ask Mater to be someone else during the trip across the world: This sends a rather incorrect message for the target audiences, 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, especially Lightning and the rest of the Radiator Springs gang, who are very underutilized, with the film barely gives 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 Sir Miles Axlerod (who may be a bit of a rehash of Mr. Waternoose from Monsters, Inc., considering they have a noticeable amount of parallels), 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 just the general jerk rival of Lightning McQueen, who hogs dialogue.
- Professor Z as the initial main villain of the film before the true colors of Axlerod's connection is revealed.
- 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 goofy main character of the movie.
- While awesome and not directly unlikable characters, the problem with Finn and Holley is that they're both too oblivious to Mater, seeing how he constantly tells them he's not a spy while proving that multiple times, and yet even after all that, they still believe he's a top spy.
- The idea of living automobiles showing concern for the environment and going green is not only arguably ridiculous impractical and convoluted but comes off as pointless due to the film's implication that alternate fuel isn't even being used that much yet, to which it comes off as pandering. It is disappointing, considering that the film was being created and produced by Pixar Animation Studios, which again, is traditionally known for its heartwarming stories and concept.
- There are lots of filler moments in this movie that were never mentioned again afterward, such as the scene where McQueen and his pit crew exploring Japan after arriving there from the airport as well as a brief scene of Mater, Finn, and Holley traveling in Paris, French.
- And finally, the film has a frustratingly stupid plot that relies on conveniences. Why does Axlerod need to cover himself during the meeting other than to keep the plot from going and keep the identity of the leader of the Lemons' reveal mysterious? Another example is when Mater tells the spies that he isn't one by multiple times, but they still think he is the spy. Another example also is in the death of Rod Redline scene when Professor Z just says he discovered that Allinol has a weakness against electromagnetic pulse, even though in the end, he is basically the one who invented it. No one is there except Rod, whom you are going to kill anyway. Why still try hiding the truth if no one else is going to find out?
- The universe starts to make no sense in this film. For instance:
- There's a scene where Mater writes a letter to McQueen, but how could he use a pen without hands if they use their tires and suspensions for them?
- It's shown that the cars can eat actual food here, such as ice cream, wasabi, and tacos, but where does the food go? Where does it come out?
- Where does the cream for the ice cream come from in the first place if the cows are tractors?
- Finn jokes that Holley's main expertise is designing iPhone apps, but how do cars use iPhones?
- There's a scene in a pub that shows a glass of beer, but how is a car supposed to drink from it? It's just a glass that humans drink from.
- The entire characters have no hair, but at one point, how did Francesco's mother have hair during the start of the second race at Porto Corsa, Italy?
- The mystery plot twist of the true Lemons leader and mastermind only exists to give a "Mater is smart moment" when he revealed who Axlerod truly is and even then, Mater still acts like an idiot even after he has Axlerod arrested in the next scene like it never happened. Also, Mater's reasoning doesn't make any sense. How did he manage to know Axlerod's engine is the same as the one from the picture? Sure, the same bolts in the engine as the ones in his time bomb. But how does any of that relate to Axlerod having the engine? And in the oil leak scene, most of the oil was flowing from Mater, so it is one very small, but very important detail that doesn't make it sensible as a justification.
- That scene when Mater realizes everyone considers him an idiot tries way too hard to be emotional, but just fails so bad to the point where it's laughable.
- Some poorly written dialogue. The worst offender is when Filmore reveals McQueen actually used his organic fuel for the final race in London when he and Sarge swapped the Allinol with it as explains the camera's ineffectiveness on him, which desperately tries to be comical by being overly long, but also fails.
- Plot hole: If Holley Shiftwell had wings on her, then why did she only use them at the last minute? Or isn't it because she is too reluctant to ever utilize them until the third act?
- Besides that, in the poster she has the wings on, but she uses them only for around the last 30 minutes of the film.
- Some of the pacing isn't that great.
- Impressive action and racing scenes, especially with the opening chase with Finn McMissile and the lemons standing out as one of the best moments in the film.
- Once again, the animation is visually impressive too and colorful, especially considering how this was animated by Pixar, with the detail being more than the one from the first film. As well as the final Pixar film to be animated with their old system, Marionette, before replacing it with Presto in 2012 starting with their next film, Brave. The way they portray the world is also pretty cool.
- Amazing voice performances, which is expected for a Pixar film, with the new voice actors such as Michael Caine clearly doing a great job as Finn with the material/script he was given.
- The lemons are good antagonists with a lot of depth to them and their motivations are interesting: many of them have been rejected by the world, and in revenge, they, led by Miles Axlerod, set up the World Grand Prix and ignite the Allinol inside the cars using it, intending to manipulate the public into thinking alternative fuel is inherently flawed, hoping for them to turn to the lemons, who own the largest oil reserves in the world, for oil, believing they would get the respect they have desired for so long after years of rejection; their motivations, surprisingly, also makes use of its premise of a world being populated by sentient cars more than either the previous or following film, due to the lemons often being ridiculed due to their constant mechanical failures, as well as cars creating gasoline, which others use as fuel, as a way of gaining money.
- In fact, Professor Zündapp is actually a fairly decent and enjoyable villain who steals the show every time he appears on-screen.
- It teaches an important lesson on how major companies scam people into buying their products by advertising that it is good for them even though that is basically not the case.
- The new characters, although some were underdeveloped as mentioned above, are actually pretty awesome, such as Finn McMissile and Francesco Bernoulli.
- The relationship between Mater and Holley is funny and adorable.
- Amazing heavy metal soundtrack by Michael Giacchino; and on the topic of music, Weezer's cover of "You Might Think" by The Cars is pretty lit and well-fitting, so are the ending credits song "Collision of Worlds" by Brad Paisley and Robbie Williams and "Polyrhythm" by Perfume for the World Grand Prix promotion party event. Other music tracks included:
- "It's Finn McMissile!". Pretty much the film's Leitmotif, it's a catchy and jazzy spy theme that is reminiscent of the good old James Bond music.
- "The World Grand Prix" fanfare and the remix for the closing race in Radiator Springs. The former track is a grand piece of music to open a worldwide sporting event, while the latter track gives off the same grandeur in Radiator Spring style.
- Despite the plot being terribly written which relies on conveniences, it is weirdly unpredictable, which is something that we really cannot say about its spin-off by figuring out the plot by ONE SIMPLE SENTENCE.
- In fact, it is a harmless watch if you're just curious.
- As clichéd as it is, the "be yourself" lesson is still something good to be used for teaching kids.
- Despite being very underutilized and underdeveloped, most of the original characters like Lightning and the Radiator Springs townsfolk are still likable.
- Even Mater can be likable enough for some viewers despite his flanderization as mentioned above.
- At least the racers aren't stereotypes of their countries.
- The concept of seeing cars go around the world is interesting, in terms of the film being part of the Cars franchise.
- Some scenes are worth a laugh, especially with these quotes:
- "Whatever you do, do NOT EAT, the free pistachio ice cream! It has turned." (echoes) (Arguably the funniest scene of the movie)
- "I have no idea what you're talking about, Alexander Hugo, A.K.A Chop Shop Alex. Hey, you got a lot of A.K.As, Alex, but I guess that makes sense, seeing as how you're wanted in France, Germany, the Czech Republic-"
- "MATER, STOP IT!"
- "Wow! A live karate demonstration!"
- "Those are strong words from a car that is so fragile."
- "FRAGILE?! HE CALLS-A FRANCESCO FRAGILE! NOT-A SO FAST, MCQUEEN!"
- "Not so fast, what is that, your new motto?"
- "FRAGILE?! HE CALLS-A FRANCESCO FRAGILE! NOT-A SO FAST, MCQUEEN!"
- "You talked up a lotta cars last night! Which one's your associate?" Your mother. Oh, no, I'm sorry it was your sister. You know, I can't tell them apart these days."
- "What is happening, it's a bad dream!"
- "WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?"
- Decent direction by John Lasseter.
- Impressive cinematography, as expected for Pixar films.
- The ending is actually awesome, especially with Mater about to tow Otis with his rockets on, a faster nod to the beginning.
While many Pixar movies received positive feedback, Cars 2 received mixed reviews with praise for its voice acting and animation, but criticism for its G-rating, focus on Mater, and found the plot confusing and is widely considered to be Pixar's only weakest and black sheep movie until 2022's Lightyear. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 39% based on 219 reviews, with an average rating of 5.50/10. The website's critical 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.". It is the lowest-rated Pixar film on the site to date, and the only one to earn a "rotten" certification. It also has a 49% audience score, further proving that this is the weakest Pixar film. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 57 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale, while IMDb rates it at 6.2/10 as well as a 2.4/5 score on Letterboxd, becoming the lowest score from Pixar feature films.
A central current of the negative reviews was the theory that Cars 2 was forced out of Pixar by its corporate parent, the Walt Disney Company, out of greed to drive merchandise sales. Lasseter vehemently denied these claims, which he attributed to "people who don't know the facts, rushing to judge."
With the news of Lasseter's sexual misconduct allegations in 2017 resulting in his resignation from Disney and Pixar, this would end up being the last Pixar film that John Lasseter ever directed, before departing at the end of 2018 and moving to Skydance Animation in 2019.
Cars 2, despite the mixed reception, continued the studio's streak of box office success, grossing $191.5 million in the USA and Canada, and $370.7 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $562.1 million against its $200 million production budget. Worldwide on its opening weekend, it grossed $109 million, marking the largest opening weekend for a 2011 animated title. Overall, Cars 2 became the seventh biggest Pixar film in the worldwide box office among the fourteen released. It also became the tenth highest-grossing film of 2011. It was also the least attended Pixar film ever until 2015 when The Good Dinosaur was Pixar's first box-office bomb.
Awards and nominations
Cars 2 was the first Pixar film not to be nominated for an Oscar, probably due to its mixed reception; similarly, it is also the first Pixar film not to be nominated for Best Animated Feature since its introduction in 2001. However, 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.
- Some of the World Grand Prix racers do not speak in this film, but they do in Cars 2: The Video Game and Cars: Fast as Lightning.
- Cars 2 marks Pixar's 25th anniversary of silver.
- Not counting the DVD re-release of The Incredibles in 2011, this is the first DVD release of a Pixar film to be enhanced with Disney's Fast Play, which is the same for all subsequent Pixar films except for the 2020s Onward.
- Lloyd Sherr replaced famous American actor and comedian George Carlin, who had passed away from heart failure in June 2008, as Filmore.
- The theatrical release had an alternate Pixar logo that reads, "Celebrating 25 Years" in the closing logo. This has been removed from subsequent home video and Disney+ releases, as well as the video game adaptation.
- Cars 2 is the first sequel to focus on the secondary character (Mater) rather than the protagonist of the original film, followed by Monsters University (Mike Wazowski), Finding Dory (Dory), and Incredibles 2 (Elastigirl), although Monsters University isn't actually a sequel, but rather a prequel instead.
- This is the last Pixar film of the following:
- The last Pixar film released before Steve Jobs' death nearly four months later.
- The last Cars film to feature Mia and Tia. Replaced with Maddy McGear in Cars 3.
- The last Cars film to feature Minny and Van. However, despite them not appearing in Cars 3, diecasts of them were still produced anyways.
- The last Pixar film to be directed by John Lasseter before his departure from Pixar and Disney animation at the end of 2018. It also marks the only time that Randy Newman did not score a Pixar film directed by Lasseter.
- The last Pixar film and only Cars film to use the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo.
- This is the only Cars film of the following:
- The only Cars film not to have a post-credit scene.
- The only Cars film not to be scored by Randy Newman since it is instead scored by another recurring composer Michael Giacchino.
- The only Cars film not to feature Paul Newman (due to his death) as Doc Hudson, whose destruction is also implied in-universe. Archive footage of him still appears in Cars 3.
- The only Cars film not to have the main character appear in a new paint job at the end.
- The only Cars film where the Tractors do not appear.
- The only Cars film with co-director Brad Lewis's involvement, who left Pixar after the film was released.
- There was also a character named Giulia, who was a double agent that might have later pulled a heel-face turn until Holley Shiftwell took the spot. The unused name for Giulia would later be used for another Pixar movie 10 years later, Luca.
- This was also Pixar's first non-Toy Story sequel.
- Before the closing logos of Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar, the international version includes "With A Special Appearance By" for each character from a race car, for example, Mark "Frosty" Winterbottom. Furthermore, there is also an international version, which includes mixing studio by Shepperton International and international language produced by Disney Character Voices International, Inc.
- In the short YouTube documentary, A Day in the Life of John Lasseter, it is shown that during the end of production of Cars 2, Professor Z's lines in the interrogation scene with Rod "Torque" Redline were changed to remove any references to radiation ("electro-magnetic pulse" was originally called "blast of radiation"). John Lasseter asked that the lines be changed out of respect for Japan, due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that happened there three months before the film's release in the United States, which was caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. However, in the Cars 2 Junior Novelization and the Cars 2 magazines, "blast of radiation" was used, probably because they were made before they changed the line.
- Multiple racing drivers voice car versions of themselves in international releases, including Formula 1 alumni Fernando Alonso and Vitaly Petrov.
- It was originally scheduled for a summer 2012 release, but Pixar moved the release up by a year. In 2009, Disney registered several domain names, hinting to audiences that the title and theme of the film would be concerning a World Grand Prix.
- The character team built 145 new character models for the film and 781 variants. These variants, which are primarily background cars, include 13 model variants – unique character models that are based on other new models – and 768 shading variants – models that are re-used from classic and new Cars, Cars 2, and Cars Toons models, but with new, unique paint schemes. In total, there are 926 new characters in Cars 2.
|Pixar Animation Studios|
Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - Monsters, Inc. - Finding Nemo - The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave - Monsters University - Inside Out - The Good Dinosaur - Finding Dory - Cars 3 - Coco - Incredibles 2 - Toy Story 4 - Onward - Soul - Luca - Turning Red - Lightyear - Elemental
Theatrical short films:
The Adventures of André and Wally B. - Luxo Jr. - Red's Dream - Tin Toy - Knick Knack - Geri's Game - For the Birds - Boundin' - One Man Band - Lifted - Presto - Partly Cloudy - Day & Night - La Luna - The Blue Umbrella - Lava - Sanjay's Super Team - Piper - Lou - Bao
Purl - Smash and Grab - Kitbull - Float - Wind - Loop - Out - Burrow - Twenty Something - Nona
Mike's New Car - Jack-Jack Attack - Mr. Incredible and Pals - Mater and the Ghostlight - Your Friend the Rat - BURN-E - Dug's Special Mission - George and A.J. - The Legend of Mor'du - Party Central - Riley's First Date? - Marine Life Interviews - Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool - Auntie Edna - Lamp Life - 22 vs. Earth - Ciao Alberto
Mater's Tall Tales:
Rescue Squad Mater - Mater the Greater - El Materdor - Tokyo Mater - Unidentified Flying Mater - Monster Truck Mater - Heavy Metal Mater - Moon Mater - Mater Private Eye - Air Mater - Time Travel Mater
Tales from Radiator Springs:
Hiccups - Bugged - Spinning - The Radiator Springs 500½
Toy Story Toons:
Hawaiian Vacation - Small Fry - Partysaurus Rex
Forky Asks a Question:
What Is Money? - What Is a Friend? - What Is Art? - What Is Time - What Is Love? - What Is a Computer? - What Is a Leader? - What Is a Pet? - What Is Cheese? - What Is Reading?
To Fitness and Beyond - Unparalleled Parking - Dory Finding - Soul of the City - Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love - Chore Day the Incredibles Way - A Day in the Life of the Dead - Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads - Dancing with the Cars - Cookie Num Num
Squirrel! - Puppies - Flowers - Smell - Science