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Wednesday, July 13, 2011  

M. Ovie Reviews: Cars 2

The day M. Edium and I saw this, we weren't planning to. Our original plan was to drive from our rented cabin in West Yellowstone, Montana to the Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. But there was a 30-minute construction delay marked on the park road map, so we set out to find an alternate route. Here's something we learned about Yellowstone National Park: it doesn't have alternate routes. If it's not on the map, it's not there. Must have had something to do with the solid wall of mountains. Anyway, by the time we were able to finally take a left, we had been on the road for an hour and a half and were all the way up in Bozeman. So forget the Mammoth Hot Springs.

Instead, M. Edium and I went to see Cars 2 while Trash sat out in the lobby reading her Kindle and ogling Neville Longbottom on a big HP7P2 standup (even I was like, Yowza!). So here's what I have to say about Cars 2:

Some sequels are just an effort to cash in. Others are attempts to correct mistakes made in the original. Cars 2 is both.

Hear me out. I think at some point, Pixar realized they'd screwed the pooch with the original film in a very vital sense. Setting most of the story in a tiny town populated by like eight cars? How many toys are they going to sell that way? You buy your kids the whole population of Radiator Springs, plus a few alternate versions of Lightning McQueen, and you're done. At one point I was actually reduced to buying M. Edium a completely unaffiliated Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Matchbox car and telling him it was "Junior from Cars."

Now, I know that they later came up with a whole garage full of other toys like "Brand-New Mater" and mini versions of the cameo cars from the end credits, but even with the whole "World of Cars" stuff that's been on shelves for the last few years that are almost completely composed of total flights of fancy, they've obviously been flailing.

Well, it's beyond obvious that they weren't going to make the same mistake with the second movie. This time, they can sell the whole Radiator Springs crew yet again, even though the original supporting cast barely has cameos. Mater's the hero of this new film, and he meets plenty of cars along his globehopping adventures, each of whom will raise millions in merch sales.

Chief among these is Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), a steel-nerved British spy car bristling with gadgets. Of course you'll need to buy a different version of Finn for every gadget. There's also Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) in a fetching fuchsia paint job, for girls who thought sky-blue Porsche Sally from the original was a little too butch. There's a whole motorpool of villains, including one voiced by Joe Mantegna. There's Land Rover Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard) and Formula car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) and a colossal dump truck that not only provides a cheap tractor-tipping callback but will also tip the price point scale north of fifty bucks. There are cameos by world leaders, like the Queen of England car and the Popemobile, the latter of which will come in a two-pack. Even Mater gets into it, as a short scene of him playing with disguise technology gives us brief glimpses of different versions of himself that are probably flying off shelves as I write this. Just don't ask me how you're going to be able to tell your Ivan truck from your Mater-In-Disguise-As-Ivan truck.

And that's not even getting into all the possibilities for playsets that the new film's many locations opens up. Pixar makes Tokyo, Paris, Italy, and London look fantastic, but they'll look even better in your kid's playroom, am I right?

So as far as making a movie that lives up to the towering Pixar legacy, Cars 2 comes up a little short. But in terms of opening up a merchandising gold mine, it's a tour de force.

Of course, I will have to get M. Edium a toy of the car voiced by Bruce Campbell. I'm only human, right?

posted by M. Giant 10:15 AM 0 comments


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