Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cars 2 (John Lasseter, 2011) -- B-

Commercialism shouldn't stop Cars 2 from being seen as Pixar's best film since Ratatouille - there's an unbridled enthusiasm driving the often spellbinding visuals and director John Lasseter mercifully omits the saccharine sentimentality that ultimately sunk Up and Toy Story 3. There's more imagination on display in Lasseter's presentation (the opening sequence approaches visceral sophistication) and these anthropomorphized cars make better play-date companions than Woody and the gang, especially Larry the Cable Guy's Mater, surprisingly funny and genuine, if slight. Nevertheless, Pixar yet again cannot refrain from attempts at implicit morality building, as the crux of the narrative concerns the emergence of an alternative fuel vs. big business oil. Like Up's corporation baddies or Wall-E's unforgivably smug liberalism, it's an unwelcome addition to a film that should be about wonderment, not polemics. More offensive could be Cars 2's eye-raisingly casual cultural stereotyping (another Pixar staple), but the damage is slight here, mainly because the tone is kept endearing, rather than forcefully sombre.

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