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- "Going where no car has gone before."
In Cars 2, Lightning McQueen and Mater, along with Luigi, Guido, Fillmore and Sarge, travel to Japan and Europe so Lightning can compete in the first annual World Grand Prix against the world's top racing superstars held by former oil tycoon Miles Axlerod. However, Mater soon gets caught in the middle of a big conspiracy when he discovers weapons designer Professor Z is planning to sabotage the race. Now Mater and his new secret agent friends, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, must stop the professor and save the world.
The film begins with a red British car named Leland Turbo transmitting a warning via video to British spy car Finn McMissile. Later, Finn, with help from a boat named Crabby, sneaks onto an oil platform to find that evil scientist Professor Z is in command of suspicious operations. Finn is shortly discovered, and is forced to escape without getting enough info about the Professor's schemes.
While watching the announcement of the first ever World Grand Prix sponsored by former oil tycoon Sir Miles Axlerod to promote his new renewable fuel Allinol, Mater gets angry when F1 car Francesco Bernoulli starts boasting about how he is far faster than Lightning, and manages to contact the TV studio (The Mel Dorado Show) by phone to confront him. Lightning intervenes and accepts Bernoulli's challenge to race against him in the Grand Prix.
By suggestion of Lightning's girlfriend Sally Carrera, Mater travels with him to Tokyo, Japan to the first race of the Grand Prix. But Lightning is worried if Mater could manage to behave properly. His fears are confirmed when Mater creates a series of ruckus in the debut party. While going to the bathroom, Mater comes across two thugs confronting an American secret agent named Rod "Torque" Redline, who slips a device containing classified info into his body without him noticing, and is approached by McMissile's assistant Holley Shiftwell who mistakes him for the agent, and they agree to meet during the race in the following evening. Rod is then captured and brought to Professor Z, who reveals that cars fueled with Allinol explode when hit with an electromagnetic pulse. He makes a demonstration on the agent himself after figuring that Mater has the info, and orders his men to capture him.
The race in Tokyo begins, and Francesco Bernoulli soon takes the lead until he is surpassed by Lightning. Zündapp's agents make use of an electromagnetic pulse generator disguised as a camera to ignite the Allinol in some competitors, leading to some accidents. Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell find that the agents are coming after Mater, and manage to have him flee to the streets by hacking the transmitter he is using to pass instructions to Lightning, which ends up having Lightning surrendering the lead to Francesco by mistake. Finn manages to save Mater from his pursuers, but Lightning blames Mater for losing the race and claims that he does not need his help anymore. Saddened for having his best friend angry on him, Mater leaves to the airport to take a plane home. But once again, he is pursued by the Professor's thugs just to be rescued in time by Finn. Still mistaking him for a secret agent, Finn and Holley ask Mater to help them thwart Zündapp's plans.
In Porto Corsa, Italy, where the second leg of the Grand Prix is being held, Mater manages to infiltrate one of the criminals' meetings disguised as Ivan, another tow truck. He finds that the mysterious chain of accidents occurring during the races is part of a plan to discredit the Allinol and ensure that all cars keep using conventional fuel to secure the profits of their organization, who managed to secure the largest unexplored oil resources in the world.
With most cars out of the race due to the explosions, Lightning and Francesco end up in first and second respectively. Sir Axlerod states that with the Allinol under suspicion, he decides to suspend use of the fuel for the third and final leg in the UK, but Lightning states that he trusts Axlerod's fuel (by Fillmore's advice) and will keep using it. The criminals then decide to have Lightning killed in the next race. Mater reveals himself by accident and rushes to warn his friend, but is captured along Finn and Holley before being able to do so.
Mater is put to sleep by some sleeping gas inside a trailer. While he's asleep, he dreams about the past few days in Japan. Realizing that he was embarrassing Lightning, when he didn't know and that everyone was laughing at him. Then he remembers causing Lightning to lose the first race in Japan. This makes him realize that his normal actions in Radiator Springs can make others around feel embarrassed in public when he doesn't know it.
Mater wakes up finding himself tied up in London inside Big Bentley with Finn and Holley, also tied up, minutes away from being crushed by its gears. The last race begins, and the criminals use the electromagnetic pulse device on Lightning. But surprisingly, nothing happens. Mater learns that a bomb was put into Lightning's pit crew area, set to explode when Lightning stops there. Mater then manages to escape to warn his friends. Finn and Holley succeed in freeing themselves as well. But they find that the bomb is actually on Mater, swapped with his air filter. They warn him about the bomb just when he is about to rejoin the others. And Mater flees to protect them, with Lightning going after him unaware of the situation.
Professor Z tries to detonate the bomb remotely, only to find that the device is out of the signal's range. He then orders his thugs to corner Mater with his friends to have them explode together, but Finn, Holley, the army and police (helped by Sheriff and Sarge) intervene and have him arrested. Finn orders Zündapp to deactivate the bomb on Mater, but he claims that only the one who installed it is able to do so. Mater then figures out that the true mastermind behind the criminal acts is none other than Sir Axlerod himself, whose aim was to have the world relinquish the use of all alternative fuels in favor of the oil reserves in his possession. Axlerod ends up confirming Mater's suspicion when he is confronted by him and forced to deactivate the bomb with a voice command to prevent it from killing himself.
For exposing Axlerod as a criminal mastermind, Mater is knighted by the Queen and returns home with his friends where the cars from the Grand Prix take part into their own unofficial Radiator Springs Grand Prix. Fillmore reveals that Sarge replaced Lightning's Allinol before the last race with his own organic fuel mixture, which is what prevented Lightning from being affected by the electromagnetism. Finn and Holley pay a visit to Mater, and invite him to join them in another secret mission. But he declines, claiming that he is in the place he should be.
During the credits, Lightning McQueen and Mater are shown to be driving through various locations around the world before finally returning to Radiator Springs.
- Larry the Cable Guy: Mater
- Owen Wilson: Lightning McQueen
- Michael Caine: Finn McMissile
- Emily Mortimer: Holley Shiftwell
- Tony Shalhoub: Luigi
- Guido Quaroni: Guido
- Paul Dooley: Sarge
- Bonnie Hunt: Sally Carrera
- Michael Wallis: Sheriff
- Cheech Marin: Ramone
- Jenifer Lewis: Flo
- Katherine Helmond: Lizzie
- John Ratzenberger: Mack
- Lindsey Collins: Mia
- Elissa Knight: Tia
- Richard Kind: Van
- Edie McClurg: Minny
- Darrell Waltrip: Darrell Cartrip
- John Turturro: Francesco Bernoulli
- Thomas Kretschmann: Professor Z
- Bruce Campbell: Rod "Torque" Redline
- Jeff Gordon: Jeff Gorvette
- Eddie Izzard: Miles Axlerod
- Joe Mantegna: Grem
- Peter Jacobson: Acer
- Jason Isaacs: Siddeley / Leland Turbo
- Velibor Topic: Alexander Hugo
- Lloyd Sherr: Fillmore / Tony Trihull
- Michel Michelis: Tomber
- Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton
- Brent Musburger: Brent Mustangburger
- David Hobbs: David Hobbscap
- Stanley Townsend: Victor Hugo / Vladimir Trunkov / Ivan
- Brad Lewis: Tubbs Pacer
- John Mainieri: J. Curby Gremlin
- Franco Nero: Uncle Topolino
- Vanessa Redgrave: Mama Topolino / The Queen
- Sig Hansen: Crabby
- Patrick Walker: Mel Dorado
- Jeff Garlin: Otis
- John Lasseter: John Lassetire
- Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi: Sushi Chef
- Sonoko Konishi: Japanese Toilet Assistant Cartoon
- Teresa Gallagher: Mater's Computer
Three voice actors of the original Cars film have died since the first film had been released. Joe Ranft, who voiced Red and Jerry Recycled Batteries, died in a car accident in August 2005 during production of the first film. Red appears in the movie, and does an inaudible cry.
Paul Newman, who voiced Doc Hudson, died in September 2008 after losing an ongoing cancer battle. Lasseter was at first adamant that Newman would return, even though he had announced his retirement from acting. After Newman's death, Lasseter said that they would see how the story goes with Doc Hudson. Finally, it was chosen that Doc wouldn't be voiced by another actor in the movie, instead they made it where he would be deceased.
In international versions of Cars 2, Jeff Gorvette is replaced in one scene by a different character, voiced by a regionally better known racer than Jeff Gordon:
- Australia: Mark Winterbottom: Frosty
- Spain: Fernando Alonso: Fernando Alonso
- Russia: Vitaly Petrov: Vitaly Petrov
- Sweden: Jan Nilsson: Flash
- China: Unknown: Long Ge
- Mexico: Memo Rojas: Memo Rojas
- Germany: Sebastian Vettel: Sebastian Schnell (Max Schnell)
- Brazil: Claudia Leitte: Carla Veloso
- France: Unknown: Raoul ÇaRoule
Notable voices in the international versions are Sophia Loren, who voices Mama Topolino in 21 non-English countries, and Jacques Villeneuve, who voices David Hobbscap in the French versions. In the Brazilian version, sportspeople still appear, with Lewis Hamilton becoming Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi, while Brent Mustangburger and David Hobbscap were done by sports announcers José Trajano and Luciano do Valle.
John Lasseter conceived the sequel's story while traveling around the world promoting the first film. He said, "I kept looking out thinking, 'What would Mater do in this situation,' you know? I could imagine him driving around on the wrong side of the road in the UK, going around in big, giant traveling circles in Paris, on the autobahn in Germany, dealing with the motor scooters in Italy, trying to figure out road signs in Japan."
The spy theme of Cars 2 emerged from a scene developed for Cars, which would have seen Lightning and Sally go to the drive-in movie theater, where they would have seen a spy film. Although the scene didn't make it to the final film, John Lasseter, who says to be an avid spy films fan, liked so much the idea of spy cars that he kept it in mind, and it became a main element in Cars 2.
Several members of the team watched spy movies, and studied the scenarist techniques and filming process. Lasseter watched as many spy movies as he could get to figure out the genre. While looking at spy films, story supervisor Nathan Stanton payed particular attention to how car chases are shot.
Many animators had the opportunity to test real sports cars at their full speed, by themselves or with a pilot, to gain experience on how to animate the characters of the movie. Some also attended to racing events.
It took a long time for the team to decide the emotional center of the film. Notably, Doc Hudson's death was envisaged as the emotional center of the film, as he could be considered as Lightning and Mater's father, but this idea was finally abandoned, and Lightning and Mater's friendship was retained.
It was originally planned that the World Grand Prix would be composed of five races rather than three, but two of them were removed because it was too much story to tell. The movie was also supposed to open in Prague, but Lasseter moved it to the ocean and the oil rigs, which he though would be a much more spectacular way of debuting the film and to announce its spy theme.
In the original Cars, the landscapes and buildings included numerous car elements and mechanical pieces. In Cars 2, this technique, referred to as "Car-ification", appears more prominently due to the important number of places visited. Lasseter wanted as much monuments as possible to be "car-ified". Therefore, all famous buildings in the real towns visited received important modifications to integrate in their architecture car grills, headlights, pistons, spark plugs and many other car pieces, although the general appearance is conserved. Some buildings are even renamed, such as Big Ben which becomes Big Bentley. Many also get bigger proportions to fit a car scale. For example, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame's Cathedral in Paris are 50% bigger than the originals. The process extends itself to the culture. The use by gambling cars of fuzzy dices similar to those hanged in a decorative purpose inside a car, or the periodic table of elements that becomes the automotive table of elements, can be given as examples.
In 2009, Disney registered several domain names in relation to the title "World Grand Prix". However, only the title "Cars 2" has been released.
The teaser trailer for Cars 2 appeared on the Blu-ray and DVD editions of Toy Story 3 when it was released on November 2, 2010.
The full length trailer for Cars 2 was released on Pixar's official YouTube account on November 15, 2010 and later appeared in front of the animated Disney film Tangled.
From early 2011 to the opening of Cars 2, Disney/Pixar massively published stills, video clips and concept art from the movie. Characters of the film were also regularly revealed, and a turntable video was provided for most of them.
Life-sized remote-controlled models of Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Finn McMissile were created for Cars 2 as part of the “Agents on a Mission” tour, presented by State Farm, to promote the film. The cars were exposed in several North American cities, including Detroit, Toronto, Phoenix, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Miami, among others.
At the occasion of the 2011 WonderCon, Disney also led a viral marketing campaign. Outside the convention center was an AMC Pacer parked with an inscription leading to the Twitter account @ChromeLeaks. This account gives a URL that redirects to a video, Cars N' Deals of Emeryville Sale-A-Bration!, which contains a number of Pixar-related references, plus a hidden message that will bring you to a video with new Cars 2 footage. In June, Disney/Pixar released another viral video, of lesser importance, V12 TV, which uses clips from Cars 2 to spoof popular television programs.
Jake Mandeville−Anthony v. The Walt Disney Company
On March 14, 2011, British screenwriter Jake Mandeville-Anthony filed a lawsuit against Disney and Pixar, saying the Cars franchise had similarities to characters and multiple screenplays "Cookie & Co." and "Cars", which he developed in the early 1990's, alleging copyright infringement and breach of implied contract. Mandeville-Anthony claims he sent his story to a number of studios, including Disney and Pixar, and met with Jim Morris, then at Lucasfilm. He requested an injunction to stop the release of Cars 2 and actual or statutory damages. On July 27, 2011, the case was dismissed, preventing it from going to jury trial or ever being refiled. Disney's attorneys proved that Mandeville-Anthony's story, reportedly full of crude language and dialogue and highly offensive racist stereotypes, were very different from the Cars films.
During the summer of 2008, John Lasseter announced that Cars 2 would be pushed forward and released in the summer of 2011, one year earlier than its original 2012 release date. The US release date was later confirmed to be June 24, 2011, with a UK release date set for July 22, 2011. The world premiere of the film took place at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on June 18, 2011. Cars 2 was released in 4,115 theaters in the USA and Canada, setting a record-high for a G-rated film and for Pixar. The latter was surpassed by Brave (4,164 theaters).
The film was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and Movie Download on November 1, 2011. The release was produced in four different physical packages: a 1-disc DVD; a 2-disc combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD); a 5-disc combo pack (Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and Digital Copy); and an 11-disc three movie collector's set featuring Cars, Cars 2 and Mater's Tall Tales. The film was also released as a Movie Download option in both standard and high definition.
The Movie Download version includes four bonus features: the new Cars Toon "Air Mater", the Toy Story Toon "Hawaiian Vacation", "World Tour Interactive Feature", and "Bringing Cars 2 to the World". The 1-disc DVD and 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack versions include the shorts "Air Mater" and "Hawaiian Vacation", plus "Director John Lasseter Commentary." The 5-disc combo pack includes all of the same bonus features as the 1-disc DVD and 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack versions, plus "World Tour Interactive Feature" and "Sneak Peek: The Nuts and Bolts of Cars Land." The 11-disc three movie collection comes packaged with Cars (Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy), Cars 2 (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy), and Mater's Tall Tales (Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy).
Cars 2 sold 1,983,374 DVD units during its opening week, generating $31.24 million and claiming first place. It also finished on the top spot on the Blu-ray chart during its first week, selling 1.76 million units and generating $44.57 million. Its Blu-ray share of home media was 47%, indicating an unexpectedly major shift of sales from DVD to Blu-ray. Blu-ray 3D contributed to this, accounting for 17% of total disc sales.
Cars 2 received mixed-to-negative reviews. It holds a 39% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 203 reviews, with an average score of 5.5/10, making it the first Pixar film to garner a "rotten" certification. Its consensus reads, "Cars 2 is as visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but all that dazzle can't disguise the rusty storytelling under the hood." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 57/100 based on 38 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". "The original Cars was not greeted with exceptional warmth," said The New York Times, "but the sequel generated Pixar's first truly negative response." Critics generally criticized the G rating, the focus on Mater and felt the film lacked warmth and charm, while also feeling the film was made as an exercise in target marketing. Reviewing the film for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern wrote, "This frenzied sequel seldom gets beyond mediocrity." Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman said, "Cars 2 is a movie so stuffed with "fun" that it went right off the rails. What on earth was the gifted director-mogul John Lasseter thinking – that he wanted kids to come out of this movie was [sic] more ADD?" Although Leonard Maltin on IndieWire claimed that he had "such high regard for Pixar and its creative team headed by John Lasseter" he said he found the plot "confusing" and felt that Tow Mater's voice annoying saying that he'd "rather listen to chalk on a blackboard than spend nearly two hours with Tow Mater." Considering the low reviews given to the Pixar production, critic Kyle Smith of the New York Post said, "They said it couldn't be done. But Pixar proved the naysayers wrong when it made its first bad movie, Cars. Now it has worsted itself with the even more awful'Cars 2."
Conversely, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the movie 3½ stars out of four, and said that "the sequel is a tire-burning burst of action and fun with a beating heart under its hood." He also praised its "fluid script" and called it a "winner". Roger Ebert was the most effusive of the more positive reviews, writing, "At a time when some 'grown-up' action films are relentlessly shallow and stupid, here is a movie with such complexity that even the cars sometimes have to pause and explain it to themselves." Justin Chang of Variety commented, "The rare sequel that not only improves on but retroactively justifies its predecessor." Ticket buyers also gave the film an A– in exit polls, on par with other Pixar titles. A central current of the negative reviews was the theory that Cars 2 was forced out of Pixar by its corporate parent, the Walt Disney Company, out of greed to drive merchandising sales. Lasseter vehemently denied these claims, calling them "people who don't know the facts, rushing to judge." Some theorized that the vitriol was less about the film but more about Pixar's broadened focus to sequels. The New York Times reported that although one negatively reviewed film would not be enough to scratch the studio, "the commentary did dent morale at the studio, which until then had enjoyed an unbroken and perhaps unprecedented run of critical acclaim."
Box Office Results
Cars 2 grossed $191,452,396 in the USA and Canada, and $368,400,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $559,852,396. Worldwide on its opening weekend it grossed $109.0 million, marking the largest opening weekend for a 2011 animated title. Overall, Cars 2 became seventh biggest Pixar film in terms of worldwide box office among fourteen released, making it the highest-grossing film in the Franchise.
Cars 2 made $25.7 million on its debut Friday (June 24, 2011), marking the third-largest opening day for a Pixar film after Toy Story 3's $41.1 million. At the time, though, it was the third least-attended opening day for a Pixar film, only ahead of Up and Ratatouille. It also scored the sixth largest opening day for an animated feature. On its opening weekend as a whole, Cars 2 debuted at No.1 with $66.1 million, marking the largest opening weekend for a 2011 animated feature, the seventh largest opening for Pixar, the eighth largest among films released in June, and the fourth largest for a G-rated film. In its second weekend, however, the film dropped 60.3%, the largest second weekend drop ever for a Pixar film, and grossed $26.2 million. It is the only Pixar film that missed the $200-million mark since A Bug's Life, and it is also the least attended Pixar film ever.
Outside North America, it grossed $42.9 million during its first weekend from 3,129 theaters in 18 countries, topping the box office. It performed especially well in Russia where it grossed $9.42 million, marking the best opening weekend for a Disney or Pixar animated feature and surpassing the entire runs of Cars and Toy Story 3. In Mexico, it made $8.24 million during its first weekend. In Brazil, it topped the box office with $5.19 million ($7.08 million with previews). It also premiered at No.1 with $5.16 million in Australia, where it debuted simultaneously with Kung Fu Panda 2 and out-grossed it. It is the highest-grossing film of 2011 in Lithuania ($477,117), and Argentina ($11,996,480). It is the highest-grossing animated film of 2011 in Estonia ($442,707), Finland ($3,230,314), and Norway ($5,762,653).
- Main article: Cars 2 Awards
Cars 2 marks the first Pixar film not to be nominated for an Oscar. It is also the first Pixar film not nominated for Best Animated Feature in the history of that Award (2001–present).
Attached Short Film
Hawaiian Vacation, the first episode of the Toy Story Toons series that stars the Toy Story characters, was attached to Cars 2.
Sequel and spin-offs
An animated feature film spin-off called Planes, produced by DisneyToon Studios, was released on August 9, 2013. A sequel to Planes, titled Planes: Fire & Rescue, was released on July 18, 2014.
At the Disney shareholders meeting in March of 2014, Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger confirmed that Pixar is in pre-production on a third Cars film. The release date was later revealed to be June 16, 2017.
The film was rated G, just like the first film. Its mixed critical reception was also raised over the G rating, with rumors that it should have instead been rated PG in relation to its violence and rude humor.
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