Last year’s film The Tourist featured scenic panoramas, action packed sequences and famous lead actors. It also had a muddled story line and characters I didn’t feel empathy for. The journey was exquisite, but the ending left me dissatisfied.
Fast forward to June, 2011 and the film Cars 2, created by Pixar Studios.
Up until I saw Cars 2, I didn’t read the reviews – but I did know that the Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes had handed Pixar it’s first critical dud (the original Cars was at the bottom of the heap until then, but still “fresh”). My expectations weren’t high going into Cars 2, like they normally would be for a Pixar film – but I tried to keep an open mind.
Why did I mention The Tourist? The two films parallel each other in so many ways. First, the scenery. A beautiful view can obscure the worst of storylines. I found myself drifting from the plot of Cars 2 early on, taking in the gorgeous surroundings that the characters found themselves in. I read signs, looked for Disney references (and found several, from the “Topolino” reference to “The Incredimobiles” playing at the Drive-In). And like The Tourist, there was not only a confusing storyline, but a lot of action that seemed to be pointless. The final reveal on each film left me wishing that the movies had played out differently.
Cars 2 follows the adventures of Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who originally does not plan to drive in the World Grand Prix. Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) sets the ball rolling for McQueen to enter the race, and McQueen brings Mater on the advice of his girlfriend Sally. What follows is a mix of espionage, an odd oil/environmental storyline, and an abundance of characters I barely remember. And it baffles me that Cars 2 would have a song (“You Might Think”) by the 80’s group The Cars – which would normally make perfect sense, except that the song is sung by Weezer.
I’d rate Cars 2 a C. I was never bored, but only because the film was so beautifully animated, and included areas I've visited in real life. Prior to viewing the film, I read a tweet calling Mater the Jar Jar Binks of Cars 2. I was prepared to feel the same – but I didn’t. Mater was a bit of a pest in the film, mildly annoying – but also sweet and he gave the film a little bit of heart.
We did enjoy the preview of the upcoming film The Muppets. I’m not always a fan of remakes, especially when I viewed the original in the theater – but I’m optimistic that this one will be a fun time at the movies. And my favorite part of the film experience was the short Hawaiian Vacation, with the Toy Story 3 characters. Barbie and Ken plan to tag along with Bonnie on the family trip to Hawaii, but don’t even make it out of the house. The other Toy Story characters bring Hawaii to Barbie and Ken, setting the stage for a first kiss. I wish the short had been longer!
We went to see Cars 2 at the new AMC Downtown Disney Dine-In Theaters. I did a theater review in May prior to it’s official opening, which currently has over 6700 views. We thought Cars 2 was the perfect film with the Dine-In experience, one where we didn't have to worry about watching every second of the film. There are other films (such as Midnight in Paris) where I'd not have wanted to be handed a bill during a key scene. Our food was all terrific during this experience, we started with the Sweet Onion Loops ($6.99), which we also had on our first visit. I tried the Lime Chicken Griller ($8.99) and Jeff had the Southwest Fajita Chicken Wrap ($8.99). My chicken didn't have a heavy lime taste, but it was juicy and delicious. We weren't fans of the french fries from our previous trip, but the house made chips were tasty and warm. I love having the extra-comfy seating for longer films, and Cars 2 clocks in at 2 hours. It was a great movie experience for a very average film. We were with a group of friends who didn't have the good service we did, so it sounds like AMC is still working out the kinks at this theater.
Filming in the AMC Dine-In Theaters During Our Visit
AMC Dine-In Theaters
Sweet Onion Loops
Enjoying the Extra Seating Room
Lime Chicken Griller
Lime Chicken Griller with House Made Chips
Southwest Fajita Chicken Wrap
A Full House for Cars 2