Being a bit of a car nut, I really enjoyed Cars. Just like every other Pixar film, it was made for kids but has enough adult humor to keep the parents happy. I went into the Cars 2 showing knowing full well that it was riding a historically low (for Pixar) 35% critic rating.
The plot of Cars 2 is a bit thick, especially when compared to the first one. Also I didn’t exactly laugh out loud more than once or twice, although the smirk and smile meter was pretty high. Overall I think Cars 2 is not a great movie and might be one of the weaker Pixar movies to date in terms of writing.
However, for anyone who enjoys cars, the genuine love for the automotive industry shines through in this movie. The landscapes in Tokyo, Porto Corsa (modeled after Monaco), and London are filled with architecture and natural structures tweaked to include iconic grills, pistons, and various other car parts. Plus having racing world talents such as Jeff Gordon, Lewis Hamilton, Darrel Waltrip, Brent Mussburger, and David Hobbs to fill in as voice talent gives the movie a true credibility.
Despite being animated, Cars 2 features some of the most realistic physics and modeling I’ve seen in just about any car movie. They did a great job rendering individual car models, as well as giving them fitting personalities. Half the fun for me was just spotting Ferraris, Corvettes, BMWs, etc. The two spy characters are modeled after the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 and the Jaguar XJR-15. And of course the Fiat 500s!
Even though the cars in the movie end up swinging around on grappling hooks and jumping from roof to roof, in general the physics of the cars feel very real. Pixar does a great job of animating the suspensions and tires. Plus the sound in the movie is excellent as well. The races in the movie are a Grand Prix that involves every different type of race car: F1, Rally, Nascar. Just hearing all the different engines types revving at the start of each race was great!
Of course, as a fan of Fiat, one of the best parts of Cars 2 were the scenes with Luigi, the Fiat 500 from the original movie. He and his forklift friend, Guido, return for the second installment. They make the trip to Italy with Lightning McQueen and meet up with some young Fiat 500s. Both the old and new models are on screen together for a pretty long time and there are lots of new Fiat 500s throughout the scenes in Italy.
Overall I enjoyed the movie. In many ways, it seemed to cater more to car fans and less to children, which was a very good thing. On the way out of the theater I saw both a new Fiat 500 and an old 1960s Mini Cooper. Apparently I wasn’t the only car fan in attendance.