Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another tired retread: Cars 2 - Trailer 2

This is one of those that you almost hate to bash: its antecedent was a huge but loveable cornball of romance, rural-urban shift and of course, racing action (and who could resist Tony Shaloub as tire dealer Guido?).

Naturally, John Lasseter and his gang at Pixar, who have very rarely mis-stepped, figured that an update had to go beyond the folksy rubric of the first film. So they've gone to the opposite extreme, concocting a barely credible hodgepodge encompassing everything from alternative fuel sources to the bonds of friendship to the culture clash between Americans (and rural-based Americans especially) and the rest of the world (Europeans especially).

So a race for world bragging rights, with hero Lightning McQueen (voiced tepidly by Owen Wilson) and "Italian stallion" Francesco Bernoulli devovles into a worldwide spy game with the rusty tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, giving it his usual 110%) inadvertently co-opted into an operation led by  Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer (respectively cast as "Finn McMissile" and "Holly Shiftwell" - are you kidding me?).

The technical crew has stepped their game up: the animation, both in terms of the characters and the scenery, is among the very best Pixar has done, and that's saying something. But that excellence is really in service of  a  blatantly by-the-numbers story delivered and executed in a largely self-satisfied manner by the director and most of the cast.

Two car chases book-end this movie: the opener is a James Bond rip-off (homage?) that has some amount of zip to it; the latter is an overdone "Bullitt" rip-off (homage?) that makes one even more anxious for the summary and closing. Nothing else about this narrative is in anyway remarkable, in the way that Wall-E or even the Incredibles were.

Sorry guys, you could almost call me a fanboy, but this one needs a red flag.

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