Cars 2

Cars 2

Director: John Lasseter

Cast: Voiced by Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, John Turturro;

Rating: **

Comic book cars do not just go out for a drive. If they are Lightning McQueen, the immensely likeable hero of 'Cars', they zip, zoom, scoot, shoot, and vroom. McQueen and his buck-tooted pal Mater are back in the second part of this carathon, brimming with automobiles of all descriptions and dispositions. This time around, McQueen and his techni-coloured gang is not content scurrying around small-town America; they go off to see the world, roaring in and out of three continents, playing spy games and racing around Grand Prix tracks : it's all very breathless, non-stop, and surprisingly a lot less fun than the original `Cars'.

It's not that McQueen (Wilson) has become less interesting. He's still who he is : a feisty fiery red good guy who will jolly along his needy buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and beat back the baddies. It's just that the sequel decides to fly off in three different directions so you feel you are watching three different films, with unexpected switches in tone and tenor : it suddenly becomes a Bond-style spy thriller, with the very British Finn McMissile (Caine) and the sweet Holley Shiftwell (Mortimer) mistaking Mater for a secret agent. Much confusion ensues, as McQueen is challenged by the cocky Italian Francesco Bernoulli (Turturro) for a race to the finish. There's also an eco-friendly thread in the mix, in which we are presented with a dark conspiracy involving bad oil and billionaires pushing clean fuel.

The trouble with stuffing too much into a film quickly becomes evident in `Cars 2, as the plotlines tumble and collide with each other creating, mostly, cacophony. The dialogue is rattled off at breakneck speed, and very loudly, and the 3D renders all the sparkling Pixar colours dull : are things coming at us, or surrounding us, so important that the film has to sacrifice all brightness? As McQueen and his rival go neck to neck, the lessons come at us in heavily underscored bullet points : that it is okay to poke fun at rubes if you're going to rescue them in the end (poor Mater has to suffer through all kinds of indignities before the film reaches this conclusion), that green is good, and that friends and families are, at the end of the cliched day, all we have. It's all, pardon me, much too bumper-sticker.

... contd.

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