Astonishing aerial views and magical 3D car races make “Cars 2” a joy to watch. You don’t need to have seen “Cars” to follow the plot. It’s all quite fun, fast-paced and enormously cheerful.
There is a story, of sorts, involving a possible safe and green replacement fuel for the internal combustion engine and quite a lot of spying. The environmental stuff is superficial but contains light ideas that won’t frighten small children. The espionage here is a hoot, allowing Sir Michael Caine to reprise his Harry Palmer role, as a talking animated car.
The fact that it’s the iconic James Bond Aston Martin allows sly homage to double agent movies. Emily Mortimer’s British secret agent car (“I am normally a technician”) is also very entertaining.
Being a Pixar movie, the Brits can’t be the stars. That would be our heroes, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his pal, Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, getting the majority of the laughs and the pathos).
John Turturro and Eddie Izzard also play leading cars, with Turturro being an Italian racing car and Izzard being Sir Miles, a big cheese among industrialists and an over-sized car.
Races in Japan, Italy and London may be more entertaining for the parents than for the children. We are well used to animals and objects getting the Disney treatment and full facial expression and personality, but the depths and meaning of anthropomorphism in animated movies won’t trouble your brain.
At Stratford Picturehouse, the adults seemed to be guffawing a lot more than the kiddies. American viewers will appreciate the cute changes to the names of sportscasters.
You also get a rather delightful short new “Toy Story” short feature, just before the movie starts. It’s very beautiful and features moving scenes that progress Barbie’s relationship with Ken. You know you wanted that, didn’t you?
It’s not Pixar’s best ever but it passes 112 minutes perfectly happily and is stunning to watch. See it in 3D if you can as it really adds a great deal of depth to the images. It’s a movie that will amuse young and old.