Cars 2 (MPAA Rating: G) Voice Cast: Larry the Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Michael Cain, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro Directed By: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
I brought my almost-5-year-old to the theater for the Sunday matinee of this movie, and as luck would have it we meet up with two more almost-5-year-olds from her pre-school class, giving me an instant panel of critics to this Disney/Pixar sequel. It was interesting witnessing the evolution of their opinions in real time.
The excitement in the beginning was palpable as the youngsters were reintroduced to their favorite characters. With 3D glasses firmly on their faces, they watched intently as the movie moved from Radiator Springs to the bright lights of Tokyo. There was something about a spy story that they sort of caught on to, but they were more entertained by Mater’s yokel antics and the “vroom vroom” of the actual races.
Then, about an hour into the movie, the crew grew steadily uninterested in the increasingly complicated plot unraveling on the screen, or the seemingly endless lines they gave Michael Cain to say, or the trippy realization that Mater’s folksy/clueless schtick tended to make people not take him seriously. The kids began to yell quite loudly, “When is this over?” and started bouncing on the movie seats. The glasses had been taken off seemingly long before. Just as the supposed climax of the movie arrived, with Mater delivering a Columbo-style, who-dun-it soliloquy, the kids had about had enough and demanded a bathroom break.
I looked around to see if ours were the only kids bored with the second half of the movie, and I observed one mom reassuring her kid that the movie was almost over, and another family at their wits end trying to keep their brood from running toward the brightly lit fire exits.
The conclusion is obvious – this two-hour movie is just too long. The simplicity of the original Cars – McQueen’s big city mouse among a town of country mice – was part of the original appeal to a generation of kids and their parents alike. Cars 2 tries too hard to recapture the actual kids who saw the original and have since moved on to the real cars of The Fast & the Furious series, instead of playing to their younger brothers and sisters.
The movie isn’t a total loss, of course. Most of the actors do wonderful jobs (though I felt Wilson might have literally phoned it in), and you just can’t be mad at Larry the Cable Guy’s adorably clueless Mater. Turturro seemed to channel his Jesus Quintana character from The Big Labowski when voicing the Formula One racer Francesco Bernoulli, and Cain is well, Michael Cain.
The 3D effects are good and made sense, but it’s not enough to keep the kids under 5 focused on what’s happening past hour one, and I even found myself wandering towards the end. If you are a purist and must have absolute quiet for every movie, take a late night showing, because the kids will get restless. If they are your kids, well, at least you did what you promised and they got to see Cars 2 in the theater. This is one of those parent traps that you will just have the suck up and hand over the cash, though you willl like it better when your movie club delivers it to your mailbox in blu ray.
Your Daddy Time: Wasted or Worth It? Worth It (barely)! 2.5/5 Stars
The Worth It/Wasted Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:
* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies
If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.