Here we have what’s easily Pixar’s nadir, a noisy, simplistic red-headed stepchild of a movie, closer in spirit to the sound and fury Michael Bay might churn out, a mix of frantic action and earsplitting explosions. The action’s one of the high points — except it’s involving, you know, anthropomorphic cars — at least in comparison to the actual humor the movie carts out, a tiring cavalcade of lazy cultural and ethnic stereotypes. The majority of this is at the service of Larry the Cable Guy, who returns to voice Tow Mater the tow truck, and who the film is built around. Here, Mater plays the ultimate Ugly American, as the plot sends him and Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) abroad to Japan, Italy, and England. We get a heaping of Cable Guy-styled culture clash, mining cheap laughs out of general willful ignorance and buffoonery, while he traipses around the globe, never shutting up for two seconds, never listening or learning and stumbling his way through the dull comic set pieces the film creates, the kind of obvious humor that feels like it was ripped off from beer commercials. Mater quickly finds himself accidentally involved in a fit of espionage when a couple of British secret agents (voiced by Michael Caine and Emily Moritmer) mistake him for a spy, and Mater, through force of obliviousness, traipses in and out of deadly situations. Really, what we have here is a mainstream, kiddie version of stuff like Larry’s Delta Farce, but toned down for children, which, in theory, is a tad bit better. At least its cultural ignorance is less blatant or offensive.
Official Site: disney.go.com/cars
Director: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Writer: Ben Queen
Producer: Denise Ream
Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna and Peter Jacobson
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