Cars 2: The Lemon

I started writing this back in July but never finished it. So “last week” is more like “last quarter”.

I took a day off work last week and took the family out to see Cars 2 in 3-D at the local cinema. Perhaps we’ve had it too good for too long with Pixar. They consistently produced brilliant, imaginative animation with engaging characters. I mean really, you can’t fault Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Wall-E or Up whether you’re judging though children or adult eyes. From the start, Pixar cast the right voice actors, wrote brilliant stories, composed great music and employed brilliant visionary directors.

In comparison, their biggest competitor in Dreamworks has been a bit hit-and-miss. Below is a graph showing rating scores from RottenTomatoes.com for Pixar movies (in pink) and Dreamworks movies (in blue).

First thing you can see is that, for the most part, Pixar rates higher than Dreamworks. And, Pixar always has rated highly from their first movie Toy Story back in 1995, following up with greats including Mosters Inc, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The only aberration, funnily enough,  seems to be Cars from 2006, making a score of 74% their “bad movie”. Dreamworks seems to be a roller coaster on the ratings ride, with great shows like Chicken Run, Shrek, Shrek 2 and How to Train Your Dragon being interspersed with stinkers like Shark Tale and Shrek the Third.

But what’s this on the end there? It looks like Pixar took a nose dive off a cliff face after taking a long run up and crashed spectacularly. That, my friends, is Cars 2 with a score of 38%, making Cars 2 the first Pixar movie to get a yellow sticker. True, it’s as visually stunning as any other Pixar movie. More-so, given the “locations” and the 3-D treatment. But none of it could disguise the leaky seals and smoke coming from under the hood. Could it be because Cars 2 was was less about Lightning McQueen, a good strong character, and more about Mater, who, let’s face it, is pretty weak? Could it have been marked down for trying to cram in too much action, like car chases, explosions, guns and violence at the expense of a good story? Could it be because of the weak story pandering to the lowest common denominator, and being too obvious as a vehicle to sell more toys?

Personally, I think it’s a mix of all these. After the movie I think the whole family felt disappointed in the movie. Certainly, Jett no longer regards McQueen as as favourite character but expresses his admiration for Finn McMissile. I don’t know what’s in the pipeline at Pixar, but I hope they can redeem themselves with the next movie. I really hope that they don’t try to revive it and make Cars 3. Even if that engine was fully restored, the body was given a new coat of metallic paint and a new genius director was given the keys I don’t think it’d come out a winner. It would probably never been forgiven for past failures and would forever be known as the Sporty Corvair of animated feature movies.