Pixar, in its infinite wisdom, doesn’t do sequels very often. Toy Story has been the only trilogy series they’ve produced in their short history, and judging by the rather adequate reviews, it’s safe to assume that their sequels usually aren’t straight-to-DVD hash jobs. Now the trailer for Cars 2 has been released, and despite the complete plot, setting, and ensemble changes that would tarnish lesser franchises, our fears of a schlocky money-grubbing cheap shot can be allayed, solely because it will feature AMC products with rocket launchers.
Cars 2 features the ubitiquously popular Lightning McQueen as an international man of mystery, jetsetting from Tokyo to London to Paris, in a world where Michael Caine—played by a Pininfarina-bodied Ferrari 410 Superamerica, no less—believes that him and Larry the Cable Guy are both “master spies.” Since the passing of Paul Newman, his signature Hudson Hornet is unsurprisingly absent, and racing takes place in Japan, an avenue that the franchise has toyed with before. Gone are the social commentaries on commercialism, redemption, community spirit, and the genuine embracing of NASCAR: now we have puke-green AMC Pacer baddies fighting in restrooms, Casino-Royale-style. Even though on paper it sounds like a disaster, somehow, I’m ok with that.
When Cars came out in 2006, it did what few other feature-length movies have: it successfully encapsulated the passion and obsession of what it means to be a car enthusiast, in a way overlooked by, say, Days of Thunder. For example, when the lights on the gas station pumps turn on in Radiator Springs, they mimic the firing order of a Ford flathead V8—probably because director John Lasseter owns one. He’ll be co-directing this sequel as well. If his track record is any indication, this should be just as lavishly detailed and filled with pathos as the first one, and just as well-received.
And if the trailer is any indication, man-children like us shall be treated to an action-packed tale of dangerous AMC machines gone rogue, where Rebel Machines collude with evil mastermind Oleg Cassini in a deadly Alliance that stretches from Kenosha to Barcelona to the tree-lined boulevards of Boulogne-Billancourt, setting the stage for a final showdown between McQueen and an army of Ramblers who will cut like a Javelin. No Ambassador can save you now. This time, there will be no Encores.