Friday, June 24, 2011

In Theaters Today: Cars 2 {Review}

Knowing that if I told her beforehand I would have to endure endless questions, I waited until the day that we were attending an advance screening of Cars 2 before telling Big Sister E that we were going.

As my tomboy 4-year-old, she likes princesses and pink and all, but it's the characters from Toy Story and Cars that have been holding her attention for the past year. In fact, when we were on vacation a few months ago and she needed a new pair of sandals? She frowned at the pretty, girly ones that we kept coming across but her eyes LIT UP when she saw these:

They're a little beat up and worn now, but that's probably because she wears them practically every single day

Seeing as she has been entranced with Cars 2 commercials and all of the products showing up in the ads, going to see the movie in 3D in the theater was quite the event.

It was a little hectic when we arrived, as it seemed that there were more people than there was room, but we managed to get ourselves in to where we needed to go in time to see that Radio Disney was there entertaining the crowd while they waited.

We were then treated to an introduction to David Hobbs, the co-owner of a local Honda dealership, who voiced the character Hobbscap, one of the cars providing commentary for the film's scenes involving the World Grand Prix. He wasn't Owen Wilson, but hey, it was still cool!

Then it was time for the main event... or at least the previews for it. I was excited to see my childhood Muppets are making a comeback and that Phineas and Ferb are coming soon (I think I like them more than my kids do) and Big Sister E really liked the animals in The Lion King. But she was really thrilled to see her beloved Woody and Buzz Lightyear on the screen as the animated short "Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation" came on.

Appearing exclusively with Cars 2, the entire audience was laughing along with this adorable film:

Set in new owner Bonnie’s bedroom, "Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation" features Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and Buzz (voice of Tim Allen) and the rest of the favorite “Toy Story 3” toys as they create the ultimate Hawaiian vacation for Ken (voice of Michael Keaton) and Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson).

It seems Ken badly miscalculated their travel arrangements, so the gang has to create a dream getaway in Bonnie’s Midwestern bedroom—in the middle of winter. "Hawaiian Vacation" also features the voices of Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Blake Clark, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin and John Ratzenberger.

Still giggling over the cute return of Toy Story, we made sure we had our 3D glasses in place and our popcorn ready as Cars 2 splashed onto the screen.

Opening in the middle of the ocean, the combination of the 3D and the skill of the Disney Pixar team ensured that we felt as though we were right there on the boat. Jumping right into a James Bond-type plot, we were immediately launched into undercover operations, spies, secret weapons, chase scenes, explosions, and more... a far cry from the small town life of Radiator Springs where the original movie was set.

After that initial introduction to this sequel, we were brought back to the previous characters, including crowd favorites Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his loveable, but not always too bright, tow truck buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy).

Although it seemed that we were going to get to relax with the crew for a while, before we knew it, McQueen and his racing team were jetting across three continents to take part in the World Grand Prix in Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Although McQueen was the main star of the first Cars film, Mater took over the large role in this one when he unknowingly got involved working with spies (new characters Finn McMissile, voiced by Michael Caine, and Holly Shiftwell, voiced by Emily Mortimer) and couldn't seem to convince them that he was indeed just a regular tow truck, as opposed to that being his cover.

Feeling bad that his small-town ways and unseemly antics were out of place (as well as damaging to McQueen's racing), Mater makes up for it by helping to foil the bad guys and essentially save the world of racing. It is quite a big task for one tow truck!

All in all, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit... but I'm not sure about Big Sister E. The underlying plot was pretty in-depth (good guys, bad guys, an eco-friendly alternative to fuel, etc) and I don't know how much she understood about what was going on and why.

I also cringed a time or two at some of the violence and talk about killings (there are a lot of shootings, fights, and explosions), but she didn't seem too fazed by any of it - I could see where young children could easily be frightened, though.

When the final scene ended I turned to see what she thought and, although it was still pretty dark, I could make out her tired form.

I felt that the details, effects, and thought that went into making Cars 2 were really very impressive. Disney Pixar is known for amazing animation and this movie lives up to that - even going so far as to having the team travel to each location beforehand to research them to get things just right... there are slight changes to places like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, London's New House of Parliament, and more to make them "car-ified" to fit the theme and give keen eyes something to watch for.

Although kids of all ages might enjoy the fun of wearing the plastic glasses to experience the 3D effects, I agree with Pixar's target audience range being 7 - 12. Although Big Sister E did say that she liked the movie (apparently the large boats in the beginning that she thought resembled sharks seem to have stuck out as her favorite aspect for some reason), I think the action-packed feeling of Cars 2 will keep us from watching this over and over like we have with the original.

At least for a little while.

Have you seen Cars 2 or are you planning on it? What did you and/or your children think?

(Other than the complimentary tickets for my family to see Cars 2 that I was provided on behalf of Disney, I was not compensated or enticed or to do this review in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion of this movie.)


kailani said...

Cars was one of my favorite Disney/Pixar movies and I couldn't wait till the sequel came out. Of course, I had to work on the night of the advance screening but I can't wait to take the girls soon!

LeeAnn said...

Wow Xenia! What a FANTASTIC review! I always think your writing is great, but you really outdid yourself on this one. Disney Pixar needs to publish this. :-D

Sippy Cup Mom said...

I agree with LeeAnn! What an amazing review. You take words that are swirling around in my brain and then write them down! ;-)

Love the pictures!