Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why I don't like Cars 2

I want to start off by saying that I think Pixar movies are great.  Toy Story, Monster's Inc., and especially Wall-E are not only great cartoons, but great movies in general.  Now that that's out of the way, I will continue.

Miles and McQueen back in '10

My kids, especially Jonas, love Cars 2.  He wakes up in the morning to ask if he can watch it, he wakes up after his nap to ask if he can watch it.  He holds onto his Lightning McQueen car as though it gives him some sort of super power, and sometimes I think that it just might.  I know it's kind of snarky for me to do this, but I think that if  I don't process this a bit, I will hold bitterness and annoyed anger every time my kids want to watch Cars 2.

The truth is that this is technically a kids movie.  Pixar makes cartoons for kids,  though as we all know, the kid cartoons are becoming more and more parent friendly.  Maybe they figured out that, if they want a lot of kids to watch their movies a ton of times, they need to throw something in there for the parents to tolerate it.

The other truth, that bothers me whenever I watch it, is that Cars 2 is full of plot holes, annoying jokes that don't make any sense, and death.  That's right, death.  Cars killing other cars, squishing them into cubes or blowing them up with lasers;  there is a lot of death here.  Is this the first Pixar movie to feature killings?  Maybe.

If we back up to original Cars movie, we will see that the annoying, arrogant Chick Hicks is the enemy.  He's not a very nice car, races dirty, and in the end winds up doing a lot of damage to poor old Strip "The King" Weathers.  There is enough there to dislike the guy.  He didn't need to shoot anybody, or push anyone off of a cliff, or slash any one's tires.  He was a bad guy and we were all pretty happy in the end when everyone turned on him.  He ruined his own career and it served him right.

Cars is a fun movie.  Though, at the same time, it seemed pretty improbable and inefficient for Lightning McQueen to move his racing headquarters to Radiator Springs, AKA the irrelevant town with a gas station and a bunch of overbearing cars running the place.  Yet, if the whole story stopped there, it would have been fine.  Heck, maybe Lightning was just joking about moving there... 

The mess of Cars 2

...Yet, he wasn't.  In Cars 2 we see that he indeed was not joking.  Now, the town is hopping with people (for what reason I do not know), the old abandon Wheel Well Hotel just out of town is booming with cars, CNN is playing over the bar, and life is good.  All because a race car moved his head quarters there.  Good save, Lightning!  Maybe Lebron James can start an NBA franchise in Flint, Michigan.

And that's just for starters.  It's obvious that the producers wanted to make the movie all about Mater.  They squeezed every ounce of juice out of that character and splattered it all over the screen.  What happened was that everyone who watched Cars 1 a million times needed something new for their kids.  So Pixar brought out some smart, witty little short cartoons called Mater's Tall Tales.  I'm sure that my kids have seen those cartoons a thousand times, but now they're not even interested at all.  So, since that well ran dry, Pixar figured that kids wanted to see and hour and a half of Mater.  Hence, Cars 2.

According to the Internet, Mater is based off of a 1951 International Harvester.  Yet, throughout both movies, and the short cartoons, Mater is basically a child.  He's over 60 years old, but still needs people to take care of him.  Is this hinting towards him suffering from some sort of mental disease?  Maybe he had an injury many years ago that made him this way.  Yet, this is never explained, so we can only assume that they wanted us to ignore these facts.  In that case, here are the problems:

- Mater loves his dents because they are souvenirs from all of his good memories.  The problem with this is that he says that he came across "every one of them" with his best friend Lightning McQueen.  That is simply not true.  Mater and McQueen have been friends for a few years, so what Mater is saying that before he met McQueen, for the first 50 years of his life, he was dent free?

- Mater's whole shtick in the film is playing a sort of "Mr. Magoo" type.  He's ignorant of everything, stumbles into trouble that he's unaware of, and in the end saves the world but still seemingly does not completely understand how or why.  He tells the British spies that he'd been telling them all along that he's not a spy.  That is another lie.  If people think you are a spy, think that you have the ability to protect yourself and others in very dangerous situations, then you really need to be clear with them that you are indeed not what they thought you were.  In this case, Mater not only wasn't trying to tell them he wasn't a spy, for half the movie even he himself was unaware that he was a spy.

- Another problem with Mater is that he plays to the audience too much, breaking the "4th wall" rule in filmmaking.  Continuous "Mater jokes" are an obvious way for the filmmakers to make the parents laugh.  You know, "Like a good neighbor, Mater is there."

In any other situation would it be normal for a person to walk around and make jokes about their own name?  Especially when British spies are wiring you up with weapons and explosives?  Maybe this should have given them a hint that maybe, just maybe, this idiot isn't pretending to be an idiot but is, in fact, and idiot.  Maybe we shouldn't wire him up with automatic machine guns.  Maybe.  The cap to all of this is that even when they find out he's an idiot, in the end they still want him to work for them.

- The sexy James Bond type female car in the movie is Holly Shiftwell, which in human terms translates to something like "Holly Turn-Me-On-Easily".  She is the new recruit for the British spies.  So, she must be pretty new.  Well, she ends up as Mater's girlfriend.  Mater is 60 years old and Holly could very well be 1 or 2 years old.  Also, in car terms, she is smart and hot, Mater's life has necessitated 24 hour supervision in a deserted town in the middle of nowhere.  It all just seems wrong to me.

- The money quote in the movie is when Mater races off to save the day and Holly calls after him, "Go and get more dents, Mater".   What she meant was, "Go and rough people up, creating more wonderful memories for yourself."  What I heard was, "Go and get more dense, Mater."  It could be the only time I laughed during the whole movie.  The absolute best part about it, actually!

I could go on, but I won't.

The main thing I hate is that they went from mean ol' Chick Hicks to murdering cars.  Maybe this would have worked for Cars 3.  They seemed to up the stakes a little too quickly for me.  The other main thing I hate about it is that Mater is basically JarJar Binks annoying, yet he's the main guy in the film.

Imagine a day when Pixar makes a cartoon all about JarJar and all our kids do is talk about JarJar, quote JarJar, and want JarJar action figures to play with, pee with, sleep with, and carry with them wherever they're little feet take them.  That's basically where we are with Mater.  The dude is annoying and I hope that, if there ever is a Cars 3, they go a different way.

There, I feel a little better now.


Lisa Heide said...

not to mention Disney makes more money off of merchindise than the actual movie, really our kids aren't watching a movie just one really long commercial

Lois said...

I think you should send your 'blog' to Disney-Pixar and let 'em have it!!! (hee!hee!)(Really enjoyed this!)

The Petersons said...

Thank you for the review. I'm glad you saved me countless hours by not allowing my kids bring that into our house. Hope you're well. Peace. -Matt

Brett G 英 明 said...

Lisa: Totally a commercial. The little bit of revenge I get is that I buy fake toys that imitate Cars 2 for only a few dollars each.

Now Jonas has moved on to Astro Boy. Astro Boy is a respectable hero, so I'm happy, but now I need to fly Jonas all over the apartment and my arms are getting tired.