As soon as the credits rolled for Cars 2, I was well aware that the next 90 minutes would be a thoroughly depressing experience. In fact, I knew that after the obligatory short, usually an outlet for some beautiful little movies, this time filled with Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation, which did its best attempt at ruining all my memories of the near perfect Toy Story franchise, as well as reminding the world why Toy Story 4 should never, ever be allowed to happen.
The film picks up where Cars left off, with Lightning McQueen travelling around the country being really great, and his best friend Tow Mater still stuck in Radiator Springs, happy as Larry, but still thick as shit. In the racing world, former oil baron Miles Axlerod (Izzard) is championing the use of green alternative energy, and to help promote it is holding a World Grand Prix, to which McQueen is invited. Mater manages to tag along, but ends up as the victim of a case of mistaken identity when Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, two British secret agents, believe him to be an American informant. Oh what larks, Mater, a spy? But he’s thick as a dish. This’ll be funny…
Sadly, it’s not. This is the thing! It’s not funny! There’s no way around the fact that though this film does play it for laughs, no laughs are to be found! Ok, some of the action sequences are good, in fact, the opening sequence is brilliant, but once you’ve seen one race, you’ve seen them all. Oh, and then it turns out that Mater isn’t actually a thicky-thick-thick-thick, but is actually like, really clever, so you were horrible for judging him. We all were.
I’ve heard a few people, idiots mainly, flout the praise heaped on Pixar, deriding their output up until now as mere “children’s films”. Now, anyone with half a brain will realise how stupid this is: Pixar, for 15 years now, have told brilliant story after brilliant story that appeal to both adults and children. I ate Toy Story up with glee when I was 6, and I cried like a little schoolboy with a grazed knee at the end of Toy Story 3. Wall-E is a beautiful meditation on being alone in the universe. The opening five minutes of Up chronicles a couple’s relationship, from cradle to grave nearly, with more poignancy and heart than perhaps any film that has come before. Pixar do not make children’s films. They just don’t.
Until now. Cars 2 is a children’s film. Scratch that. It’s a boys films. It’s a film designed to sell toys to boys at Christmas. There’s lots of flashing lights and fast chases and guns and stuff, but absolutely nothing else. I’m sure I would have loved it if I were a child, as the children in the cinema where I watched it did (still didn’t make them shut up though). However, one can only hope that as they grow, their parents will introduce them to the wealth of Pixar material that came before they were even a glint in their father’s eye, and they will look back on Cars 2 and see the error of their ways. They will stamp on their Lightning McQueen toy, destroy their Cars 2 video game and wipe their arse with the accompanying colouring book, because they will know, as I know, and as you know reading this review, that Pixar can do so, so much better.
Also, and this is more of an afterthought, which could easily be edited out because it sounds like I’m ranting, but during the credit sequence at the end of Cars 2 a song plays, a song called “Collision of Worlds”, a duet between Brad Paisley and Robbie Williams. Just listen to it. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you.