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REVIEW: 'Cars 2' a Fun Family Movie That Falls a Few Laps Short of Original

Fasten your seat belts, because “Cars 2” is full throttle entertainment that both parents and children can enjoy, a trick Pixar traditionally handles very well. And while the “Cars” sequel's story line may be lacking the originality, heart and soul of previous Pixar films, there’s plenty of beautiful animation and spectacle to keep you from veering off the track.

“Cars 2” is essentially a Pixar action film. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) accepts an offer to join a race spanning two continents, bringing his best bud Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) along for the ride. Some Hitchcockian mistaken identity lands Mater in the sights of British intelligence agents Finn McMissile  (Michael Caine), portrayed appropriately as an Aston Martin, and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). Mater is propelled into a game of espionage , facing against a gang of lemons trying to sabotage the transcontinental contest.

This trip around the track, Lightning McQueen generally takes a backseat to Mater. Kids will certainly love Mater’s oafish quirks, and adults may have mixed feelings about the obvious anti-oil, pro-alternative fuel messages. Children won’t pick up on those real-world situations and will be bug-eyed over the exotic locations, chase scenes and 007-styled gadgets. Little ones will also cheer over the expansion of the Cars world to include boats and planes. 

Parents, be prepared to refill those toy boxes.

While “Cars 2” is gorgeous to look at, there’s absolutely no need to break the bank to see it in 3D. Like so many recent 3D movies, the technology adds nothing significant but financial pain. While “Cars 2” is about a dozen laps behind the best Pixar movie, it does out-pace the original “Cars” by adding the espionage plot and changing locations from the dusty desert town of Radiator Springs to the shimmering city lights in Japan, Italy and England. “Cars 2” also excels by having a strong supporting voice cast with Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, John Turturro and Eddie Izzard. Composer Michael Giacchino also accelerates the action with his groovy surfing-inspired score.

“Cars 2” is fun family entertainment. Though the tank is a little emptier this time around, with so much eye candy, you might not notice.

3 out of 5

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