After rewatching Cars the other day, I realized I couldn’t not give the entire trilogy a go, so here we are. Similar to Cars, I watched Cars 2 a long long time ago and remember very little about it (I think I watched it on a plane?). While I still remembered some of the major plot points, most of the moments in between were lost on me, so I considered this like rewatching it from scratch. While the film still captures the endearing personalities of all our favourite Radiator Springs cars, this sequel was a big miss in terms of storytelling. Directed once again by John Lasseter, Cars 2 turns away from our beloved protagonist, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), to instead follow Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) on his wacky action-packed adventure.

Mater and Lightning McQueen wandering around Tokyo

As far as Rotten Tomato is concerned, Cars 2 was an absolute flop considering how highly acclaimed Pixar’s collection of films are. Receiving a measly score of 39%, it’s safe to say that this sequel was not well received. And after watching the film in its entirety, I can see why. Instead of building off the original story surrounding Lightning McQueen’s journey as a decorated racecar, Cars 2 decided to take a hard right turn into focusing on a completely unrelated action side story. If you’re like me, you were probably disappointed because what you wanted to see out of this sequel was more racing and development from McQueen.

And look, that’s not to say that Mater wasn’t an entertaining protagonist because he was. His naturally ignorant and innocent personality opened up a lot of opportunities for humourous scenes. This time supported by Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer), the three made a fun trio despite the craziness of everything going on. See, what I didn’t like about Cars 2 was the storyline. The whole secret agent, undercover spies concept was so random and unnecessary. And while sequels don’t necessarily have to follow what happened in the original, I just felt like Cars 2 turned away from the racing aspect that appealed to crowds in the first place.

Finn McMissile escaping an explosion

Still, I can’t deny that there was still a lot of imagination and creativity that went into this film. The idea wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t mesh well with what Cars had already started off with. I personally didn’t think they needed to go down an action route to make the sequel exciting and new, but perhaps the filmmakers just wanted to try something different.

The film was, of course, still visually stunning to watch as it is a Pixar film. It’s always fun to watch Pixar trilogies because we get to see the advancements in the animation over the years. Cars 2 definitely looked a lot crisper and more detailed than the first, which means we’ll get to even more improvements in Cars 3. This sequel was certainly a lot bolder than the first and we got to see some big action sequences and interesting transformations like cars turning into boats and planes. While it was all very cool to see, I’m still going to say I wish they stuck with the more grounded story of the first. But hey, that’s just my opinion anyway.

The enemy getting chased by Mater, Finn McMissile, Holly Shiftwell, and Lightning McQueen

If you’re a fan of Pixar, I’m curious to know how this film stands in your ranking of Pixar movies. For me personally, it was a miss. Although it was still an overall entertaining watch that I’m sure kids can enjoy, it wasn’t what I was looking for and just felt wildly out of context in the whole scheme of things. It also wasn’t without it’s boring moments, with certain sections of the film feeling kind of bland. All in all, Cars 2 is getting a 5/10 from me. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a bad movie, Cars 2 was definitely a let down in terms of story progression.