This week, we watched Cars 2 and Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales.
After the success of the first Cars film, it is understandable why Pixar would choose Cars as their second property for a sequel after the Toy Story franchise. With the characters of Lightning McQueen and Mater being almost as memorable as Woody and Buzz, Pixar almost had a guaranteed hit with Cars 2. However, this film is generally looked upon as the worst Pixar film to date, both by audiences and several critics, and it was not as financially successful as most other Pixar films.
Though this film follows the first Cars movie, it is thematically completely different. While the first film focused primarily on the quaint town of Radiator Springs, Cars 2 spends very little time there, despite all of the set up of the first movie to place Lightning McQueen in this town. The majority of the film places the comedic sidekick character, Mater, front and center while following a spy plot. This thematic deviation from the first film is jarring at first but soon becomes somewhat more enjoyable as this film goes on.
Again, it is very different than the first. The first Cars was, in many respects, a quiet film with stakes that were generally not too high. Cars 2 is a louder, more bombastic film with higher stakes and many more characters. In terms of which one is best is really personal preference, though the first definitely has the upper hand. As I said before, this is often considered the worst of all Pixar films. Having never before seen it all the way through, I was curious to see if it was really as bad as everyone says. The answer? Not really. I was expecting a much worse film going in and was somewhat relieved that it was better than I expected. By Pixar standards, I do agree that it is one of their weakest entries, but I have seen many animated children’s films from other studios that are much worse than this.
The Cars universe has and probably never will be my favorite, but that doesn’t mean that I think the films are bad. As an adult, these films don’t land for me, but it is clear why kids love them. I am looking forward to watching Cars 3 to see how it closes out this trilogy.
This week, I also watched Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales. These shorts all basically follow the same plot: Mater tells Lightning an absurd story about himself, Lightning doesn’t remember, Mater inserts him into the story, and it is over. For little kids, these are fun but I don’t find them as must-watches, even for Cars fans.
Next week, there is no feature film but instead two Toy Story Toons: Small Fry and Partysaurus Rex.