By News1130 Movie Addict Treena Wood

Hey WordPress – what up with my blog, yo? I can’t make it all purdy with pictures, so my apologies to my eight loyal readers for this stripped-down version of my ramblings. And in the spirit of mea culpas, perhaps Disney would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the stripped-down addition to the Pixar dynasty that is Cars 2, sequel to the 2006 mega-hit. I laughed more during the 10 minute Toy Story short that ran before the movie, because it had everything I’ve come to expect from Pixar – endearing characters, bright colours, plenty of action, good humour for the kids and lots of winks for the grown-ups. If those are what’s needed to take the checkered flag, Cars 2 barely sputtered past the finish line. This is not to say the younger set won’t like it. They will. My 9-year old did. But if you’re taking your kids with the expectation that you’ll be entertained in the same way you were with “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story,” and “Monsters Inc,” I think you’ll be disappointed.

My biggest issue with this movie is that there are actually two movies going on. In one, star racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who has triumphantly returned to Radiator Springs after winning a bazillion trophies, is tempted back out on the track by a smarmy Italian Formula One car (John Turturro) to compete in the World Grand Prix and prove that a gasoline-free fuel called Allinol is the saviour of the transportation world. Fine. If we had left it at that, we probably could have gotten a good flick out of the deal. At the same time, though, there’s a super-secret plot by Big Oil to discredit the green movement and destroy the contestants in the race, with a British secret-agent sportster (Michael Caine) and his newbie partner (Emily Mortimer) mistaking the buck-toothed tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) for an American spy. With both plots frenetically speeding forward, neither is fleshed out properly. Add to that the obligatory Disney lessons to “always accept your friends for who they are” and “it’s OK to be yourself,” and add to THAT my inherent dislike of Larry, the surprising amount of violence in what’s supposed to be an all-ages movie, and the casually convenient message that oil companies are the devil, and you have a heck of a lot going on under the hood.

The other thing Pixar does well – cinematography – it does really well, all in stupendously unnecessary 3-D. I actually had my glasses off for a lot of the film and didn’t miss a beat. Scenes of racing in London, Tokyo and “Porto Corsa,” Italy are breathtakingly real in appearance. Michael Caine is super-cool as Her Majesty’s secret agent Finn McMissile – if James Bond needs a car for his next gig, Finn is it.

There is definitely enough to keep your little racers entertained, but at almost two hours, it’s a lot for the Pit Captain to sit through. Consider yourself warned.

1 hr 53 minutes

Rated G with several scenes of violence

2 out of 5 stars