Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cars 2: still my favorite James Bond flick, but...

You may recall that I saw Cars 2 in the cinema with my kids and quite enjoyed it. My husband didn't go with us, so he had to get the kids the DVD for Christmas in order to see it.

He thought it was OK, but found it riddled with problems. For example, the theme seems to be that -- as long as you're being true to yourself -- it's OK to be ignorantly disrespectful to other cultures. (Indeed, the movie seems to say that McQueen had no business expecting his friend not to make a scene everywhere he goes, as a condition for being invited along.) Also, the spies could have transferred their photo anywhere, so why did they arrange to do it at that huge party that was being covered on international television? Neither one of them had any reason to be at that party, or even in Japan at all. (Answer: It was the simplest way for the writers to arrange for Mater to get mistaken for "the American spy.")

Personally, I don't really like it when a script is obviously written as a vehicle for showing off stunning visuals and effects. This film has really amazing, cool visuals, but suffers a bit from this cart-leading-the-horse storytelling. And to have a leading villain who's not only German, but is a professor wearing a monocle -- can you get more cliche than that?

Now, I don't want to see any comments telling me "lighten up -- it's just a kids film." If you're tempted to do so, please read this post carefully first. Yes, all the formulas are new for kids, so they can't tell the difference between something that's original and something that's last week's refried hash. But that's no excuse for phoning it in and acting like kids don't deserve better than last week's refried hash. You guys have probably had the experience of re-watching a film as an adult that you loved as a kid, and being carried away by the mixture of magic and memories. And you've probably also had the experience of re-watching a childhood favorite and thinking, "This is total garbage -- how did I ever watch this?!" And the memory is ruined. So, I hold kids' entertainment up to high standards, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

(Though I will admit to sitting by and not making any negative remarks when my kids choose and like something that I think is total garbage *cough* Bey-Blade cartoons *cough* and I'll even listen and talk to the kids about the stories and characters, etc. But I like to recommend and watch better fare with them.)

That said, Cars 2 is not garbage. I'm actually trying to figure out why I like Cars 2 in spite of its flaws. Crazy plot holes aren't always a major problem if a film has other strengths to make up for it (I learned that from Heat Miser and Snow Miser). I think it's because of the following:

I don't usually like James Bond movies (or action movies in general) in part because the set-ups for the action sequences are so absurd that my suspension of disbelief is completely overwhelmed and I have trouble getting excited about the action. (Related: I really don't need to see any more sequences of people outrunning exploding fire-balls.) But with Cars 2, it's so absurd that there's hardly even any pretense of suspension of disbelief. Instead of having the characters drive cars covered with crazy gadgets, have them be cars covered with crazy gadgets!!! It doesn't matter that it doesn't make any sense, indeed their whole universe doesn't make sense if you think about it. Don't even try to make sense out of it -- just sit back and enjoy! :)


MrRoivas said...

Indeed, their universe doesn't make sense.

Why do they need bathrooms? Who knows. At the restaurant McQueen went to at the beginning of the movie, it had a bar. With drinks. Red, definitely not car oil drinks. Which Mater drank. With his mouth.

Trying to make sense of the Cars universe is to stare into a howling void of insanity.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey MrRoivas!!!


At Flo's Diner, they seem to suggest that the fuel that goes in the gas tank is their sustenance, but they also eat pistachio ice cream with their mouths...?

Also, they have male and female -- do they reproduce? Maybe they do (the King and his wife had a son, and Francesco had a mother), but OTOH the leader of the lemons said "They stopped making us, stopped making our parts." What...? Who's "they"?

It's tempting to try to find a set of rules that their universe abides by -- to make it consistent -- but there simply isn't one. So don't even bang your head against the wall trying. ;^)

jacklymartin said...

You may recall that I saw Race 2 in the movie with their children and very pleasant. My husband did not go with us, so he had to get the kids DVD for Christmas to see it.

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