I woke up today feeling young and chipper. For some reason I was in the mood to see a fun, kids movie today. Luckily, the Camera 7 Pruneyard in Campbell was having an early screening of Pixar's newest film CARS 2 in Disney 3-D. So like I always do, I jammed out out to my favorite theater, and was ready to let the inner child in me have some fun for the next hour and a half.
TOY STORY short which was a welcomed surprise! Entitled HAWAIIAN VACATION, Barbie and Ken stow-away in Bonnie's school backpack so they can come along with her to Hawaii. Unfortunately, Bonnie leaves her backpack at home and leaves with her family. Soon Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang try to help them have a romantic getaway vacation in Bonnie's room.
Picking up from the end of TOY STORY 3, we get to enjoy the further adventures of our favorite toys in their new home. Another treat was that Pixar reunited the original voices from the films. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and the rest all came back to reprise their respective characters.
After the short, the show continued with the main attraction. In this sequel to the popular 2006 film, the story continues with race car superstar Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson), his tow truck buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), and the rest of the gang in Radiator Springs. McQueen has been competing on the race circuit for the past three years and now he returns home for a little R&R, and also to spend some quality time with his girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt). But thanks to Mater's meddling, McQueen is lured into racing the World Grand Prix to race against his new rival Francesco Bernoulli (John Tuturro). However, during the tour Mater gets caught up in a game international espionage. With the help of British spy agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), Mater is accidentally recruited to bring down Professor Z (Thomas Kretschmann) and his gang from sabotaging the races and the new fuel invention of Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard), who's providing the fuel for the World Grand Prix.
While the film is more of a love note to the James Bond series, it does take a different route from the first film. Whereas CARS was a slower, more patient film, the sequel goes in the complete opposite direction: fast paced, high risk scenarios, in your face racing scenes that surpass the first film. Directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis keep the pace of the film fast, funny, and entertaining. The race scenes alone are just stupendous. They look like the real cities of Tokyo, Paris and London, not computer generated environments. Once again, the computer animators have outdone themselves with this film. As for the 3-D effects, that only heightened the look of the film. It was the cherry to the already perfect ice cream sundae.
The story itself was not bad, not great either. I was expecting more McQueen; his life and his struggles like in the first film. Instead, he takes a back seat to Mater and his misadventures of being the world's worst accidental spy. Pixar should have named the film CARS 2: MATER'S BIG ADVENTURE. I felt as if the filmmakers did this intentionally, without letting the audience know what they were about to see Mater, not McQueen, shine in the spotlight. While he was the breakout character of the first film (and had a series of shorts starring him and McQueen), I felt like Pixar cheated fans out of some great character development. While both Caine and Mortimer are fantastic in their roles, it was still a subpar film.
CARS 2 will still attract kids of all ages to come to the theater and be entertained. Unfortunately, the inner child in me thought the film could've been better with a stronger script and more screen time from the rest of the characters. However I knew it was going to be tough to top last year's TOY STORY 3, which was Pixar's best film ever in my opinion. Hopefully the rest of the gang in Radiator City can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that Mater has now made the world safe from another CARS sequel.
CARS 2 is now playing in 2-D and 3-D in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://www.cameracinemas.com/index.shtml
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!