Pixar is one of those studios that has always consistently made great animated movies. Ever since the release of "Toy Story" in 1995, the studio has made one fantastic animated movie after another. They did make a brief detour with "Cars" back in 2006, but it was far from completely awful. It was a decent movie, but it still did have some problems that kept it from being one of Pixar's best. After that though, they still have continued to make some fantastic animated movies. Yet unfortunately, "Cars 2" is not a good animated movie. In fact, this is the first Pixar movie I have seen that I can consider bad without hesitation. It really makes me sad to say this given they've made some of my favorite animated movies of all time, but I just can't bring myself to consider this movie good, because it's not.
Since the events of the first film, famed racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has now become a Piston Cup winner and is now returning back to Radiator Springs after a four-year winning streak to takes some time off. However, he's thrown back into the racing game when the Italian race car named Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) challenges him to race in the newly created World Grand Prix, a race created by inventor Sir Axel Rod (Eddie Izzard). McQueen accepts and he along with his pit crew and his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) leave off for Tokyo to compete in the race. However, things get more complicated when once in Tokyo, Mater is confused for an American spy by a top British agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and his assistant Holly (Emily Mortimer) who are trying to stop some evil lemon cars. I can't exactly explain the devious plot of the lemon cars because it's so complicated and confusing which honestly gets to the big problems with the movie.
I don't know exactly how Pixar could go so wrong with this movie. Their last two films, "Up" and "Toy Story 3", not only both received Oscars for Best Animated Feature, but also Best Picture nominees, the first for an animated movie since "Beauty and the Beast" back in 1991. The fact they went from those fantastic movies to this disappointing mess is just sad. The story, like I said, is needlessly complicated to follow. This was a big problem for a Pixar movie since all of their prior movies including the first "Cars" at least had easy stories to follow. Not only that, I don't think the spy element of the film worked at all. The world of "Cars" was a little confusing as is, but giving the cars some gadgets and devices just made things even more confusing. Now, I would've been more than happy if they made a spy movie and even putting actors from this movie like Caine, Mortimer, and even Bruce Campbell would've been fun. Though making it part of the "Cars" universe to me was a ludicrous idea. I also really disliked the way the film handles Doc Hudson. After the death of Paul Newman, Pixar also decided to kill off his character from the first film but rather than honor him, they rather brushed it off and just went to silly shenanigans. I really didn't like that at all. As far as the animation goes, it's easily the best part of the film. I really did love the locations of the movie like Tokyo, Paris, Italy, and London in this film and feel the sets were very well designed. I could definitely see the fantastic effort put into it which is a little frustrating given how I wished the story was better. Now let's get to the characters, and it's here where the biggest problem of the movie shines through. That problem was making Mater the main character. Despite Lightning McQueen being the prominent focus on the posters and other ads, it's really Mater who was the main focus of the film and there's so much Mater that I can take before I can get a little annoyed. He worked fine as a supporting character in the original film but putting him as the lead just didn't work at all. Also, most of the characters from the original were barely in the movie at all. I did like the spy characters at least, even though they would've been better off in a different film although the villains sucked. They were so bland and boring that they just felt like generic throwaway characters.
Personally, there really isn't that much in "Cars 2" for me to recommend. The story was needlessly complicated and hard to follow, the animation was great but felt wasted, and the characters ranged from fun to boring. It's a real shame for me to give a low grade to a Pixar movie, but I have to do it in this case. Though still, for an animation studio to go this long without a dud is impressive. I still have massive respect for the studio and their films, but I can say this is the only one from them that I can easily say to skip.