As expected Number One Son got Pixar’s Cars 2 as a Christmas present. This was the most certain thing about this Christmas. We knew that the critics had panned it but nothing really prepared us for the real problem of the movie – it had been pitched for a totally different audience from the first one. It is clear that the makers have a limited options for a sequel; it recreates the plot of the first movie, is part of a story line arch in a series or diverts from the original. The people behind Car 2 have chosen the third option and created a spy caper. However, this was no Spy Kids but a love letter to James Bond and somebody has clearly taken their eye from the ball. Thus, this movie is actually totally unsuitable for its most loyal audience, the car crazy male toddlers. The same person must have been behind a collection of the dinky car models of all the Cars 2 main character that had no working wheels, i.e. they were just cast models you cannot roll across a surface. You can guess if I bought that product from the Disney shop - or not!
No, the problem is not the way characters are presented in this movie since all the main characters are there – even surprisingly and seemingly pointlessly the hippy van (the reason for his inclusion is revealed in the end). It’s not even the postcard stereotypes of international places, i.e. Tokio, Porto Corvo or London. Actually, I found some of the stereotypes quite funny and the Queen car especially was quite sweet. Since this is a movie made for children and Americans who are unlikely to have visited Japan or an Italian Ligurian resort, the use of any easily recognisable attributes is totally understandable. No, the real shame was the surprisingly high violence content, the frantic waving of machine guns, grim grins and the number of those occasion when a character promises to ‘Kill you’. The spy action, the gangsters and danger could have been presented in a sweeter, toddler-friendlier way.
As a peace march participant back in the 1980s I feel that my child does not have to learn to hit and kill. Peter Bradshaw, feel very ashamed since you did not flag the violence up. You are writing for the Guardian and should feel your responsibility since you wrote about how the first movie had an addictive quality the adult in you could not see. The shame is shared by Mark Kermode on his DVD review in which he keeps lamenting the lame plot without pointing out the loss of innocence.
Movies sometimes grow with their audience and it may be the makers in Pixar banked on the pre-teen viewing instead of the small DVD addicts at home. We as the parents were hoping for another movie to show alongside Cars, Wall-E, Monsters Inc. and Toy Story 3 to have novelty value and variety. Luckily, Up was as marvellous as it was in the movies. However, Archaeologist Husband is now seriously considering if Cars 2 gets any further airings in the perceivable future.