Everybody hates Cars 2 – and I just don’t understand why. First of all, let me make a confession: I’m 25 years old and a Disney nerd. I love watching animated movies – as long as they’re well made. And Cars 2, even after more than ten years, is still my all-time feel-good movie.
It has everything you could wish for: Uplifting words, funny jokes, and a world you can lose yourself in. There’s barely anything that’s hateful or triggering, and I love joining the characters on their journey. Yet, most critics have characterized Cars 2 as violent and illogical, calling it the worst Pixar movie ever – and I just can’t wrap my head around it. How could I feel so differently from everyone else?
When Cars 2 was released in 2011, it left me speechless. It was probably the first movie that ever dragged me into fandom and inspired me to write little, illustrated stories about the characters. Unlike the first movie, which focuses on the arrogant race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), this time around we follow his best friend, Tow Mater (Daniel Lawrence Whitney). He’s a tow truck from the countryside and doesn’t know how to behave around upper-class people. When McQueen is invited to a racing competition, he brings Mater along and gets mad at him for embarrassing him publicly, thus causing him to lose the first race. They go their separate ways, and Mater gets dragged into a conspiracy with the secret agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).
Now back to the reasons I so much enjoy the movie. First off, the characters are both adorable and relatable. They act so human, more human than I’ve seen in many movies that actually include humans. The fact that they make mistakes and get angry makes the movie more realistic and teaches the audience important lessons, for example when the uncle of McQueen’s friend says:
You know, back when Guido and Luigi used to work for me, they would fight over everything. They fight over what Ferrari was the best Ferrari; which one of them looked more like a Ferrari. There were even some non-Ferrari fights. So, I tell them, “E va bene. It’s okay to fight. Everybody fights now and then, especially best friends. But you gotta make up fast. No fight’s more important than friendship.
Second, some people complain about the death rate in Cars 2 and its dark themes in general. I ask myself how those could be potentially harmful to children. Since they’re just cars, most kids wouldn’t even understand they died; also, deaths are never explicitly shown, just implied.
Apart from that, a lot of research, love, and creativity went into the design of the six countries and created car-like versions of the buildings and landscapes. The attention to detail is astonishing. For example, they made the bottom part of the Eiffel Tower look like a wheel and turned the pigeons into tiny planes. The film makers also did an amazing job when it comes to turning spy gadgets into items cars might use.
Most film reviewers also criticize that the plot no longer focuses on McQueen and the race but instead turns into a spy movie with Mater in the main role. I, on the other hand, feel like it allows the characters to grow and makes them more three-dimensional.
For me, Cars 2 is the perfect sequel to the first movie, widening its context. Just because Cars 2 has a very different feeling from the original movie doesn’t mean that the sequel is inferior. This animated film got me from the first second on, and if you haven’t seen it – why don’t you give it a try?
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