Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#149: Cars 2

A favorite animation movie list, unlike others, isn't necessarily a choice that's defined by what critics said about it, not measured by how well it fared at the box-office and it's never judged by how it performed at the Oscars or Cannes. It is so because the genre of animation brings out the child in us who is happy with the candy that's served to him. It doesn't matter then, if better candies exist elsewhere in other galaxies. As long as that particular candy is sweet, it works.

Be it the fantastic Lion King, the ethereal Finding Nemo or the hilarious Ice Age, there are loyalists of these movies lurking around who can get into a room and debate until kingdom come about how each of these was the best animation ever. For me, that movie was Cars. When I first saw it in 2006, I was filled with such an overwhelming empathy for Lightning McQueen and Doc Hudson, that I very much doubted if any other animation could ever move me so much. So when the sequel came out this year, there I was on Friday night on June 24th as the poster says above, in the middle row, with my 3-D glasses in tow.

At first, Cars 2 doesn't seem like a successor but a spin-off. Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) is a genius spy at work with the fanciest gadgets in his car and is out to find out what the evil Professor Zundapp is upto. Espionage in a sequel of a movie that was all about cars and racing seemed disconnected at first but as the story progresses, you see the McQueen (Owen Wilson) crew and you experience as much of relief as joie de vivre because of the familiar brand of humor. McQueen, in a parallel story track meanwhile, is out to prove that using eco-friendly fuel is the way ahead even for racing cars. To prove that to the rest of the cynical world, he enters a World Grand Prix race contesting against Francesco Bernoulli, played by John Turturro who is splendid in a delightful little cameo. And there comes Tow-mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the crass but loveable tow truck who in fact is the main protagonist in this edition. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly McMissile. Caine has the best lines and his scenes are sheer joy. This is what a star appearance is meant to be, to evoke the oohs and aahs and McMissile has it all. The animation itself in the movie is a notch above Cars and where the movie lacked in emotional appeal, it made up with the breathtaking visuals-a scene with the Queen of England enjoying the race taking the top honors.

With some incredible action sequences thrown in for good measure Cars 2 is every bit as enjoyable as the first edition. It's not as touching but surely as entertaining. Yes, the story by John Lasseter (A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 & 3, Cars) is a bit more complex and that makes the redemption-of-the-underdog theme, something that works seamlessly for this genre, redundant towards the end but as a whole the movie delivers the laughs and those emotional tugs that make Pixar the definitive animation house in Hollywood. Don't miss it, this is the movie where the money spent, even on popcorn, is also worth it.

Rating: 7.6/10
P.S.: No great shakes in 3-D by the way, 2-D would be as enjoyable !