The Notable Films of 2011: Part Two

Cars 2

Opens: June 24th 2011
Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Jason Isaacs
Director: John Lasseter

Summary: Racecar Lightning McQueen and tow truck Mater head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. Mater soon gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own, international espionage, after he’s mistaken for a secret agent and recruited for a top-secret spy mission.

Analysis: No filmmaker is without a few duds, no prestige label is without a few flawed choices, and no studio has a perfect track record – even the seemingly immortal Pixar Animation Studios. There’s debate about which is the better “Toy Story”, the lack of rewatch value with “A Bug’s Life”, the cloying sentimentality of “Monsters Inc.”, or the flaws with the second half of “Wall-E”.

Yet the most common agreement one hears about Pixar’s films, aside from them all being genius, is that 2006’s “Cars” is the weakest link. On Rotten Tomatoes the film sticks out like a sore thumb, scoring 74% positive reaction and a 6.9/10 average rating while every other feature they’ve ever produced scores at least 91% and 7.9/10 respectively.

To be fair it isn’t a bad film, even Pixar bad is better than most other animation studio’s output at their best, but its “Doc Hollywood”-esque story combined with its heavy-handed morality (even by Pixar standards) and self-indulgences rob the film of the edge, wit and inventiveness that informs all their other work. It’s certainly not their biggest seller, a worldwide theatrical take of $461 million sits towards the bottom of their output while strong DVD & Blu-ray sales certainly don’t make up for the shortfall.

Yet this is the film they chose to do their first non-“Toy Story” sequel for, rather than something more deserving or fitting such as any other film in their oeuvre. Why? Two things. The first is that “Cars” is Pixar head honcho John Lasseter’s personal baby, he’s protective of it and wants it to succeed as well as anything they’ve ever done. The chief motivator however is simple – money. “Cars” has sold $5 billion worth of merchandise, far and above any of Pixar’s other films.

A project like this may hold little interest for more adult fans of the studio’s output, but it won’t affect the kid’s interest in the property and will certainly make the company’s merchandising partners far more excited than they have been with the limited opportunities on offer in the likes of “Ratatouille” and “Up”. Even if the film stinks, there’s billions to be made with a film like this, especially as it’s introducing a whole bunch of new characters, so it’s no wonder it got greenlit.

Will it suck though? One big advantage this time is the setting. With a whole new cast of characters and a spy-themed globe-trotting storyline, the film immediately looks far more appealing than its predecessor. Judging from the first trailer we can expect a bunch of old school James Bond homages, much like they did with the score and story elements of 2004’s “The Incredibles”. Still, this is the first Pixar release in a long while that it’s very hard to get excited about.

The Complete Notable Films of 2011 Guide

Part One: 5 Days of August, 11-11-11, 13 Assassins, 30 Minutes or Less, Abduction, The Adjustment Bureau, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Albert Nobbs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Amigo, Anonymous, Apollo 18, The Apparition, Arthur, Arthur Christmas, Atlas Shrugged: Part One, Bad Teacher, Barney’s Version, Battle: Los Angeles, Beastly

Part Two: The Beaver, Beginners, Bel Ami, Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, The Big Year, Black Gold, Blackthorn, The Black Tulip, Blitz, Born to Be a Star, The Borrower Arrietty, Bridesmaids, Brighton Rock, Butter, The Cabin in the Woods, Caesar: Rise of the Apes, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2

Part Three: Catch .44, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, Ceremony, Certified Copy, Chalet Girl, The Change-Up, Clean Skin, The Cold Light of Day, Cold Weather, Colombiana, Conan the Barbarian, The Conspirator, Contagion, The Convincer, Coriolanus, Courageous, Cowboys and Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love, The Cup

Part Four: Damsels in Distress, A Dangerous Method, The Darkest Hour, The Debt, The Deep Blue Sea, The Descendants, The Details, The Devil’s Double, Dibbuk Box, The Dilemma, Dolphin Tale 3D, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dream House, Drive, Drive Angry 3D, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, The Eagle, Even the Rain, Every Day, Everything Must Go, The Eye of the Storm

Part Five: The Factory, Fast Five, The Fields, Final Destination 5, Flypaper, Footloose, Friends with Benefits, Friends with Kids, Fright Night, From Prada to Nada, The Future, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gnomeo and Juliet 3D, Goon, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Griff the Invisible, The Guard, Guns Girls and Gambling, Hall Pass

Part Six: The Hangover: Part Two, Hanna, Happy Feet 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, Haywire, A Heartbeat Away, The Help, Henry’s Crime, HERE, Higher Ground, Hobo with a Shotgun, Homework, Hop, Horrible Bosses, The Housemaid, House of My Father, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Hugo Cabret, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, The Hunter

Part Seven: I Am Number Four, I Melt With You, The Ides of March, Immortals, The Impossible, In A Better World, Incendies, The Innkeepers, Insidious, Intruders, In Your Hands, Ironclad, Jack and Diane, Jack and Jill, Jane Eyre, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Johnny English Reborn, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Jumping the Broom, Just Go With It, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Part Eight: Kaboom, The Killer Elite, Killer Joe, Kill The Irishman, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Lady, Larry Crowne, Last Night, The Ledge, Life in a Day, Like Crazy, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Little Birds, A Little Bit of Heaven, Little White Lies, Live With It, London Boulevard, The Loneliest Planet, Love and Bruises, The Lucky One

Part Nine: Machine Gun Preacher, Mad Bastards, Man on a Ledge, The Man with the Iron Fist, Margin Call, Mars Needs Moms!, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Mechanic, Meek’s Cutoff, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, The Mill and the Cross, Miral, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Monk, Monte Carlo, Mother’s Day, Movie 43, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Muppets

Part Ten: My Idiot Brother, My Week with Marilyn, Neds, New Year’s Eve, No Strings Attached, Now, Of Gods and Men, On the Road, One Day, One for the Money, Oranges and Sunshine, The Other Woman, Paranormal Activity 3, Passion Play, Paul, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Peep World, Perfect Sense, Piranha 3DD, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, Project X

Part Eleven: Prom, Puss in Boots, Rampart, Rango, The Raven, Real Steel, Red Dawn, Red Dog, Red Riding Hood, Red State, Red Tails, Restless, Retreat, Rio, Route Irish, The Rum Diary, Safe, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Salvation Boulevard, Say Nothing

Part Twelve: Scream 4, A Serbian Film, Serge Gainsbourg: A Life Heroic, Shame, Shaolin, Shark Night 3D, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Shelter, The Silent House, The Sitter, The Skin That I Inhabit, Sleeping Beauty, The Smurfs, Snabba Cash, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Snowtown, Soldiers of Fortune, Something Borrowed, Son of No One, Soul Surfer

Part Thirteen: Source Code, Space Battleship Yamato, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Straw Dogs, Submarine, Sucker Punch, Super, Super 8, Take Shelter, Take This Waltz, Ten Year, There Be Dragons, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, This Means War, This Must Be The Place, Thor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tower Heist