“Cars 2″ is certainly an entertaining movie, but there’s no denying the tang of disappointment that clings to the latest release from Pixar, the king of animation studios.
It may not be fair to judge a movie on anything other than its own merits, but Pixar has set such a high standard that anything less than a wondrous film that delights the soul and mind of children and parents alike registers as a drop-off.
Considered amidst its peers, “Cars 2″ is the cinematic runt of the litter.
The sequel takes a bold turn in shunting aside the main character of the original — hotshot race car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) — in favor of his hillbilly sidekick, Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy). The story is that McQueen has been challenged to a series of three races all over the world, but Mater steals the show when he’s mistaken as an international super-spy.
As Finn McMissile, a snooty British agent (Michael Caine) puts it, “They’re fooled because they’re too busy laughing at the fool” — not realizing Mater really is that dense.
It’s all just an excuse for one set of action-packed hijinks after another, with the bad guys divided between a loudmouthed Italian racer and a mysterious pack of the worst lemon cars in history — Yugos, Gremlins, Pacers, etc.
It’s notable that “Toy Story” is the only other story Pixar has seen fit to sequelize. Whereas last year’s “Toy Story 3″ was a heartfelt romp with a beloved set of familiar characters, “Cars 2″ feels slapped-together and hasty, a merchandising opportunity with a movie attached.
“Cars 2″ arrives on video in four different versions, with goodies ramping up as you move up in price point.
The DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack come with the same features. There’s “Hawaiian Vacation,” a cartoon short, plus another all-new short, “Air Mater,” and a commentary track by director John Lasseter.
Opt for the five-disc 3D combo pack, and you add deleted scenes, set exploration around the globe, short documentaries and a sneak preview of “Cars Land,” a new showcase at Disney’s California theme park.
Or you can go all in for the 11-disc Director’s Collection, which includes both the original film and sequel plus all the extras.
Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps