I’m one of those idiot adults who genuinely liked Cars.  Anthropomorphic iterations of my favorite inanimate objects?  Sure, why not.  It gave me a great way to connect with my elder kid – then 3 – as I was still fumbling around trying to figure out what the hell do I do with children (I’ve made marginal progress since then, about 0.05%).  He loved it, I fucking love it, and we went on to collect pretty much every fucking diecast model of the cars from that goddamn movie.  I’m not naive, I know how merchandising works, and I run headlong into it when it comes to my kids.  Whatever, I gotta do what I gotta do.

So, when we all heard about the making of Cars 2 a couple of years ago, naturally we got really psyched.  As psyched as kids can be about something they can’t really see yet (“Cars 2? WOW! Oh look, a shiny object over there…”).  Anytime a leaked still or a storyboard sketching made its way to the public, I’d show them to my kids.  I don’t know if I was doing to keep them psyched or to fuck with them.  Either way, the opening weekend came, and I was already having a dreadful feeling about the movie I couldn’t explain.  After seeing it, now I can – here’s why (spoilers, natch):

  • Pixar animators have likely started a cycle now in which live action filming will be fucked forever.  The rendering of textures of things like water and fire are absolutely bewildering.  You actually believe it’s real.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Their ability to animate life-like landscapes – and cityscapes alike – defy comprehension.  Yes, the animated humans are quickly coming, but they’ve still got work to do.  Watching Cars 2 is like watching the death of location shoots.  And if I start running out of reasons to go out to L.A., I’m gonna be pissed off.
  • It took them about five years to not be able to decide what kind of movie to make.  The first Cars movie was simple, straightforward, and made it really simple for kids to track with the story.  Here you’ve for some fucking spy caper wrapped up in some horseshit environmental agenda, with some semblance of a racing movie, further skewered with some horrendously disingenuous “just be yourself” message.  My younger kid actually got bored halfway through the movie.  How the fuck do you make a kids’ movie in which a 4 year-old gets bored halfway through it?
  • When we left the movie theater, I asked the kids what their favorite parts of the movie were.  Both of them, with no hesitation: “The guns.”  WTMF.  Is this Cars or Funnybot?  Literally, like Funnybot, there is a scene involving a pair of gatling guns and a mountain of spent shells.  Now, I’m all for violence in cartoons, I think it’s hilarious.  And it teaches the kids something.  I don’t know what, but look at how much Tom & Jerry we all watched and most of us turned out OK (I may be overestimating here).  Anyway, with Tom & Jerry, the violence was inventive, thought out, and screamed with variety.  In Cars 2, leaving much of the action to weapons is just fucking lazy writing.
  • Eddie Izzard was a complete waste in this movie.  Even the writers of the excruciating Ocean’s 12 or 13 knew how to squeeze in a bit of his stand-up references in the scripts (“Gunther?!”).  He had none of that.  Just a humorless wank of a role that might as well have been played by that Harry Potter kid – not Daniel Radcliffe, the ginger one whose name no one can ever remember, him.  Even someone like Michael Caine wasn’t given any nuggets to work with.  Would it be that hard to work in the line, “You’re a big car, but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full time job. Now behave yourself”?
  • The new characters are completely unlikable.  The kids like the F1 car, Francesco Bernoulli.  And let’s face it, they like him because he’s an F1 car.  And they like an F1 car because their dad eats, lives, and breathes F1.   There were no really interesting cameos like the previous movie (except maybe Lewis Hamilton?  But he’s a bit of a dick, so fuck him).  As for the old cars, they made them complete douchebags.  It was basically the Mater movie, and how much Larry The Cable Guy can you listen to before you want stab your ears with rusty spoons?  Any affection you felt for the characters from the old movie goes right out the window after you watch how tepid and completely uninteresting they’ve become in this new movie.
  • They couldn’t get the cast to agree on how to pronounce “grand prix”.  Nothing shreds my ear more than listening to the Amurrcan pronunciation of “grand prix”.  It’s a fucking French word, pronounce it the way it’s supposed to be pronounced.  You’ve got half the cast pronouncing it correctly, and then you’ve all the Yank voice actors saying “graynd pree” the rest of the time.  Fuck off, learn to pronounce it correctly, and for fuck’s sake, Lasseter, put some effort into some consistency in the dialogue.  Lazy wank.

Of course, I know this won’t be the end of it.  My kids will invariably beg for all the merchandising, ask to buy the DVD the minute it’s out – even the 4 year-old – and then we’ll be subject to this whole ordeal all over again.  Oh, I can’t wait.