Matter of wheel power
Direction: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Voices: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy
Made by Pixar back in 2006 the original Cars did not measure up to the high standard set by the animation studio with the Toy Story series. But it sold a lot of toys, generating more revenue than any other race care movie. So director Lasseter, a lifelong automobile aficionado, is back behind the wheel for the energetic if inessential sequel.
Expanding on the world of the first film, the follow-up teams the ace speed racer with his rusty tow-truck sidekick (voiced again by Wilson and standup comedian Larry the Cable Guy respectively). The metallic four-wheeled duo heads overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix, which traverses Japan, France, Italy and England.
The plot thickens when, in the vein of the 007 espionage capers, the slow-witted pickup truck is mistaken for an American secret agent and gets recruited for a mission spearheaded by a British spy car (Oscar-winning veteran Michael Caine in top-gear)
Fuelled with sufficient family-friendly humour, the automotive adventure is complemented by wondrous visuals and the candy-coloured designs of the cars… er, characters.
While there are a few hot rod chase segments, others are merely dull and sanctimonious. Irritatingly, the storyline bristles with homilies about friendship and the need for alternative fuel.
The A-list vocal talent includes the irrepressible John Turturro as a rival Italian champion. Also, there's a homage to the late Paul Newman who had voiced a former racing icon-turned-town judge in the original film.
With its frequent bumps and grinds, Cars 2 is just about worth a ride.