First off, I'll lead off this review with the caveat that I left about 20 minutes prior to the end of the movie. I went opening weekend, on a Sunday morning, with my two nephews, ages 4.5 and 2.5, and their dad. After no less than SIX previews, the younger only lasted about 25 minutes. The eldest stuck around for another 40 minutes, but eventually burned out as well.
I'll also say that I don't think Cars is one of Pixar's better films- in fact I think it's perhaps their weakest. Don't get me wrong- it's entertaining. The plot is simple. The characters are simple. Mater is ... simple. On the other hand, it's Disney's merchandising Golden Goose. The global sales of Cars merchandise has already surpassed eight BILLION dollars, so a sequel was a no-brainer.
And of course, no movie review on my blog would be complete without bitching about the practice AMC and Regal cinemas have of not replacing 3d lenses with 2d lenses when showing digital films. I saw Cars 2 at the Regal up in Rockville, Maryland, and it was DARK. The cars are painted in freaking neon paint and they still looked dark. As usual, I snapped a photo of the projection booth. Wannaseeithereitis...
Cars 2 had to move beyond the basic Making Friends with Different People / Be Humble and Respectful / Be Good and Good Things Come To You storyline. So they went with the Environmental Message / Let People be Who They Are / Kill Lots of Cars option.
Wait...did I just say Kill Lots of Cars? Yes. Yes I did. Basically, Cars 2 is James Bond on wheels. Almost more like Get Smart. Mistaken identity. International intrigue. Lots of vehicle on vehicle violence via guns (yes, guns), missiles (S8 AP4), and internal explosions. It was rather disconcerting for me to sit next to my nephew and watch a car voiced by (the always awesome) Bruce Campbell get his innards boiled and violently combusted by a camera-mounted microwave doohickey. But by then the (auto)body count was at least 2 dozen, so I was already a bit numb.
Anyway, there was one fairly solid race sequence that captured my nephew's attention for a good 15 minutes. The rest was standard fare...but kind of convoluted for a younger viewer. I was just starting to get interested in where things were going when I was told it was time to go "sit with Daddy". Being the favorite uncle, I had to oblige. Bottom line, though... I really didn't care too much about missing the conclusion.
Cars 2- not as good as Cars 1. Cars 1- not as good as Toy Story 3...etc.