Cars 2 wins the award for the most unnecessary sequel of the year -- at least until someone makes another Jonah Hex movie.
Yes, yes, I know - the 2006 original was a huge commercial success. Just one problem: Cars was Pixar's only dud to date, as entertainment.
But Cars 2, opening Friday, makes it look like an animated masterpiece.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a major Pixar fan of long standing. And I think the animation in Cars 2 is indeed masterful. Hey, the movie was directed by John Lasseter, the guy who dreamt Pixar up out of his own head. So what you see is both imaginative and visually amazing - astonishingly photorealistic images created by computers, visualizing things that could never be in real life.
But unlike every previous Pixar film except Cars, Cars 2 suffers from a script that can't get any traction when it comes to making an actual joke. The story is muddled, the writing is flat -- and, oh yeah, this turns out to be Pixar's contribution to the Larry the Cable Guy phenomenon.
Who, you may ask, is Larry the Cable Guy? (At least I hope you're asking; God knows I've made a point of avoiding his oeuvre, which apparently is on the same humor wavelength as that of the late Jim Varney and his dreadful Ernest films.) Larry the Cable Guy is a comedian who, like Dane Cook, has built a huge following without actually being funny.
In Cars 2, Mr. Guy (I don't know him well enough to refer to him as Larry) voices a tow-truck character named Tow Mater (insert Goofy laugh here: hyuk hyuk hyuk). He's best friends with stock-car champ Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who agrees to take Mater along when he's invited to run in an international set of Grand Prix races in Japan, Italy and England. Little does Lightning realize that this will, in fact, be Mater's film, not his. Be afraid -- be very afraid.
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