(From wiki) In the film, racecar Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and tow truck Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) head to Japan and Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix, but Mater becomes sidetracked with international espionage.
Can you make a film with a known star, but where the real hero is another one? In this sequel of Cars, John Lasseter makes the wisest decision of the whole film: the tow-truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and not The Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson) occupies the most of the engaging Cars 2.
Cars 2 starts with a Polanski Ghost-like sequence of cargo ships in the open and spy cars that need to escape their fate. After that, the McQueen inescapable race sequences become entangled in an international conspiracy against race cars, that involve in turn Japan, Paris, Italian and finally London.
The Mission-impossible international setting rejuvenates the whole theme of car-racing, and gives an extra role to Mater, who inadvertently becomes a spy without his will, joined by Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) and the British spy veteran Finn McMissile (Michael Caine, in brilliant form).
Travel stereotypes abound here (Paris is always the city of lovers), as well as the need of the film to appeal to a broader demographic than the first film. Narrative themes of friendship are also here employed, but noone really believes that Lighting McQueen and Mater might become estranged. And one will not notice, anyway: the tight spy plot and action almost blinds to any themes of friendship and affinity.
The warmest scene of the film takes place in the Italian piazza, and Francesco Bernulli (John Torturro) is the perfect vain opponent to match the new-found seriousness of Lightning Mc Queen. Michael Giaccino's confident score evokes the best of John Barry, and action sequences match with the settings of the various capitlals (the best being the Big Ben clock sequence).
Nevertheless, this is not a warm film. Cars 2 is better equipped than its predecessor to keep narrative interest, but fares equally bad on the domain of character building. One only wishes that Wall-E would somehow make its appearance.
Cars 2 2011
Directors: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Writers: Ben Queen, John Lasseter
Voices: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, John Torturro, Joe Mantegna
Music: Michael Giacchino
Art direction: Jay Shuster