Lightning McQueen is invited to compete in an international race of champions, while Mater accidentally becomes a global secret agent.
Cars 2 (2011)
Directed by John Lasseter
Written by Ben Queen
Starring Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine,
Emily Mortimer, John Turturro, Eddie Izzard, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Guido Quaroni, Joe Mantegna, Thomas Kretschmann
Sequel to 2006's Cars
I have heard nothing but terrible things about Cars 2 for over a decade now. That it's Pixar's lowest point, one of the worst sequels of all time, and so forth. It's not that bad, people. In fact, I thought it was pretty good. I don't know what you wanted from a Cars sequel, but this film ups the stakes, gives us something new, and is genuinely interesting. I think it shines the spotlight too much on Mater, but that's mostly because I've never been a fan of Larry the Cable Guy in the first place. But Michael Caine as a secret agent car? Bruce Campbell as a car with a giant bumper (as in big chin)? A far, darker story involving murder and global conspiracy? What's not to like about any of that?
In the years since the first film, Lightning (Wilson) has become a four-time Piston Cup champ and Mater (Larry) is his best friend. However, Mater can also be a bit culture shocked and, let's face it, stupid. Lightning is invited to compete in an international race, and he brings Mater with him. Mater gets mistaken for an American spy and is recruited by British agent Finn McMissile (Caine) to help him take down a global cabal of lemon cars who are trying to kill racecars using a rigged form of fuel. It's far from boring, and actually has a decent message of not trying to change your friends. Embrace the reasons you liked them in the first place.
Cars 2 could've been a lost worse, and it's a far cry from the disaster fans and critics have made it out to be over the years. I get it if it's not your cup of tea. Different strokes, different folks. But condemning it isn't fair. Pixar has done worse films.