Pixar has a track record as the best storytellers in American animation and John Lasseter, the company founder and chief creative officer, is back behind the wheel for this one, but it’s easily the weakest story they’ve tackled to date. It’s not that this overbusy concoction is a bad film. It’s energetic, colorful and jammed with bright gags, driven in top gear from start to finish and set to a spot-on score by Michael Giacchino, who channels the Bond aesthetic with a bounce. Kids will be entertained and so will adults. I just didn’t find myself particularly engaged.
Tow Mater (voiced in a good old boy drawl by Larry the Cable Guy), the lovable hick who played support in the first “Cars,” takes the lead in Cars 2 (Disney), which sends Mater along with his best buddy Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) on a globe-trotting race circuit and into the middle of an international conspiracy where he is mistaken for an American secret agent car.Yes, it’s the classic wrong man (or, I suppose, wrong car) scenario meets racing drama: a little James Bond (courtesy of Michael Caine as a vintage model with superspy gadgets), a little bit Speed Racer, a little eco-awareness conspiracy drama: it’s a battle between big oil and a new biofuel upstart with the lemons of the world grinding the gears of progress.