Cars 2 fulfills all of the requisites of a Pixar film — colorful, funny with a heart — without hitting any of the high points. This time, instead of focusing on Lightning McQueen, the speedy red race car voiced by Owen Wilson, the story ends up revolving around Mater (Daniel Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy), his aw-shucks sidekick tow truck.
The setting has moved out of the desert backwater of Radiator Springs and into the world of sophisticated Formula 1 racing, with stops in the cosmopolitan cities of Tokyo, Paris, London and the fictional Italian Porto Corsa. A fast-paced espionage tale is woven in, with Michael Caine voicing debonair spymaster Finn McMissile, and Emily Mortimer as the sexy British spy car Holley Shiftwell. (The film's director, Pixar's head John Lasseter, is a fan of Bond films, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was one of his favorite shows as a kid.)
Cars 2 — coming five years after the first — is gorgeous to look at and moves along with racetrack speed. Adults might find it too much Mater, but kids are likely to love him, dents and all. There is a nice little tribute to Doc Hudson, the car voiced by the late screen legend Paul Newman in the first film, and John Turturro is fun as Lightning's rival. Also, don't be surprised by all the product placement.
Cars 2 retails for $29.99 or $39.99 Blu-ray.