Mater Takes Spotlight in "Cars 2"
Release Date: November 1, 2011
· John Lasseter
· Brad Lewis
· Larry the Cable Guy
· Owen Wilson
· Michael Caine
DVD Review: Cars 2 (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)
by R.J. Carter
Published: November 8, 2011
Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) becomes "The Car with One Red Tire" in this spy spoof set in the world of Disney*Pixar's "Cars." In "Cars 2," Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) accepts the challenge of Italian racecar Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) to race in the Allinol Grand Prix -- a series of round-the-globe races sponsored by Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard) to promote his new organic fuel, Allinol.
But there are other cars -- all lemons -- operating in the shadows who don't want to see Allinol succeed. And with a hidden secret weapon, they're able to make cars fueled up with Allinol explode. As the Grand Prix continues to pile up casualties (yes, these and other characters actually "die," something to consider along with the less-than-subversive demonification of Big Oil), British Intelligence agents Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) try to find the cause of the calamities -- and mistakenly take Mater as an American agent after the information was planted on him by a dying spy.
It's been said in other places, but it bears repeating: "Cars 2" is Mater's movie. It's funny, it's goofy -- and it's actually quite a moving character piece. When Mater's thoughtless antics cause McQueen to lose his first race, McQueen tells him off. Mater doesn't really know why, but when Finn compliments him on how well he pulls off his cover identity of playing the fool, he finally gets how people see him. And in the end, it's Mater's forte -- a genuinely thorough knowledge of cars and their engines -- that uncovers the mastermind of the plot and saves the day.
A particularly nice touch in the film that adults will appreciate moreso than the children is an early scene in Radiator Springs, as Lightning stores his latest Piston Cup -- in the Hudson Hornet Piston Cup museum. After the passing of Paul Newman, who voiced Doc Hudson in the original film, the story allows for Doc Hudson's passing rather than revoice the character (a la "Toy Story" with Slinky Dog and Jim Varney), and the racing industry honors him by renaming the Piston Cup after the Hudson Hornet.
Bonus features on this Blu-ray/DVD double-pack are, refreshingly, the same on both discs, and include a feature commentary with directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, and two Disney*Pixar shorts. "Hawaiian Vacation" reunites the characters (and cast) of "Toy Story" for a mini in-room adventure after Bonnie goes to Hawaii with her parents. Thinking they'd go to Hawaii too, Barbie and Ken stowed away in her preschool backpack, to find out they only traveled from the day care center to Bonnie's bedroom. Once the toys figure out that Ken had something special planned for Barbie (a first kiss), they quickly turn the bedroom into a Hawaiian paradise.
The second short is a Cars Toon episode, "Air Mater." Here, Tow Mater goes to Propwash Junction, a town that's full of airplanes. When a sign guarantees that anyone can be taught to fly, he takes them up on their challenge and gets suited up with wings -- and becomes part of a jet formation stunt team! It's nice enough on its own, but the ending telegraphs that the episode is really a teaser for an upcoming film set in the "Cars" world and featured in the previews on this release: "Planes."
Previews on this release include "Brave," "Lady and the Tramp" Platinum Edition, "Planes," "Cars 2" videogame, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice," and "The Muppets."