It may not be a classic Disney movie, but when Cars first came out in 2006 my kids loved it. So when they heard Disney Pixar was releasing a Cars 2 movie, it was on their ‘must watch’ list.
The Cars 2 movie takes Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his best bud Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) out of Radiator Springs and overseas into a world of Grand Prix racing and espionage. Many of the characters your kids may love from Disney Pixar’s Cars movie, like Sally or Sheriff, only play bit parts in Cars 2, at the beginning and near the end. However, Lightning McQueen’s original pit crew members, Luigi and Guido, do travel overseas to be part of the Cars 2 pit crew. This movie really focuses on Lightning McQueen and Mater and a cast of new characters: Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), and Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) to name a few.
The original Cars movie was more of a story about best friends and working as a team. The Cars 2 movie also touches on the theme of friendship but I found this movie had more action to it, almost like James Bond film for kids. Funny enough, the spy story seems to play without Lightning McQueen really knowing. You’ll still hear the fun banter between Lightning McQueen and Mater throughout the movie but the racing story is secondary in Disney Pixar’s Cars 2 movie. The main story is about spies and espionage. There are double-crosses and secret weapons and guns, lots of guns.
I bring this point up because, unlike the original Cars movie that was about sneaky tricks to win a race, Cars 2 involves mobsters that break into gunfight in dark alleys and plot to ‘take out’ other cars in the race. This tone is very different than the first movie and sort of took me by surprise. Although the characters in Cars 2 are cartoon vehicles, the movie has added human characteristics and emotions to them. It’s what makes us cheer for Lightning McQueen to win and sad when we think he’s abandoned his friend. But it also makes us uneasy when a spy car is ‘tortured’ by the bad guys in one scene.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved Disney Pixar’s Cars 2 movie, even more so than the first movie. My three kids would agree, especially my 7 and 9 year old. They felt the spy action was far more entertaining than the race in the first Cars movie. They loved the technology used by the spies, turning into submarine or flying cars, shooting grappling hooks from under the hood, transforming into disguises. Though my 4 year old found it very loud and wasn't a fan of the 3D version. But, good or bad, my kids have been exposed to action-oriented movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. The gunplay didn’t faze them too much. But for younger fans that might be expecting Cars, they might be in for a shock.
My advice to parents, if your kids liked Disney Pixar’s Cars movie, then they will probably enjoy Cars 2, maybe even more so than the original film, like my kids did. But with the change in tone and the addition of guns, parents with younger kids might want to keep this in mind when deciding if seeing Cars 2 is appropriate for them. Especially when the action as well as sound, will be magnified exponentially on a movie theatre screen compared to on your TV screen.
I want to thank the folks at Walt Disney Studios Canada for inviting my family to see Disney Pixar’s Cars 2.