Vehicular Film Slaughter


Cars 2The first movie was about NASCAR racing, so this one is about international espionage. Makes sense. Okay, I guess it sort of does, since the spy genre often involves souped-up cars. But it doesn’t make for a particularly good movie. I believe this one has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of any Pixar film, and I can’t say I disagree. At least that means that, if I’m on the same page as the consensus, Cars 3 won’t be as bad. The original Cars wasn’t a favorite of mine by any means, but it had a bit of sentimental charm that really isn’t present in the sequel. Since Lightning McQueen’s story is pretty much over, it instead focuses on Larry the Cable Guy’s tow truck character Tow Mater, whom McQueen takes along on the World Grand Prix. Sponsored by a billionaire oil tycoon car who’s now marketing an alternative fuel, it has tracks in Japan, Italy, and England. There’s a fair amount of Mater just acting like an American rube, driving on the wrong side of the road and mistaking wasabi for pistachio ice cream, for instance. (How is a car going to tell if something is spicy, though?) He’s mistaken for a spy by two actual spy cars, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, who are investigating a plot to sabotage the Grand Prix by a society of lemons, and they take his simple-mindedness as remaining under cover.

He eventually manages to save the day and expose the mastermind behind the scheme in his own way by noticing things the other cars don’t. There’s a bit of a subplot about McQueen having an Italian rival in the Formula One car Francesco Bernoulli, whom his girlfriend finds attractive, but it never really goes much of anywhere. The film continues to introduce aspects to the world that don’t really seem to work with cars as the dominant life form. Like, Luigi’s Italian aunt and uncle want to make McQueen food that will fatten him up, because stereotypes. But if they live on fuel, wouldn’t that just result in an overflowing gas tank, not a fatter car? But then, as per the wasabi scene, they apparently eat human foods sometimes? How do they even make it? I’m not really sure how it works. It’s also confirmed that ALL vehicles are alive and many of them sentient, so when the cars fly in planes, they’re riding inside of other intelligent beings.

I guess that was already the case with the trailers in the first movie, but it’s even more exaggerated here. Really, though, my main problem was that it just wasn’t particularly fun to watch. The only thing that I think worked was some of the jokey names for the cars, but I like puns more than a lot of people. The name Topolino for Luigi’s relatives is an in-joke of sorts, in that it’s a nickname for the Fiat 500, but also the Italian name for Mickey Mouse.

I’m not exactly sure how “Tow Mater” is funny, though. I mean, I get that he’s a tow truck and it sounds like “tomato,” but what does he have to do with tomatoes? I guess they just thought “Mater” sounded like a hick name or something?

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This entry was posted in Cartoons, Humor, Names, Revisiting Disney, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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