Much of the story revolves around a stiff-upper-lipped Aston Martin-esque super-spy called Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine), who unearths a fiendish plot to destroy all petrol-driven vehicles. By sheer coincidence, rickety hick pick-up Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is taken for a fellow agent and unwittingly embroiled in the scenario. And that’s pretty much it.
Pixar’s technical expertise is not in doubt: the animators’ elaborate vistas and extraordinary level of detail is a marvel. But creatively, ‘Cars 2’ is a bit of a scene-hopping mess made worse by dint of a million car chases and hardly any gags. The most obvious weakness is characterisation. Unlike those of, say, ‘Toy Story’, which ooze individuality and make the audience feel emotionally connected, here it’s just a bunch of shiny vehicles that sprout mouths and eyes from out of the blue. As a means to flog merchandise, ‘Cars 2’ ticks all the boxes. But as a character-led film it doesn’t work. Time, perhaps, for the franchise to be towed off to the scrapyard. Sorry, Pixar. A Fan.