Cars 2: The 'Mater Who Knew Too Little

So, umm, Cars 2. The premise is a pretty simple one. It's a mistaken-identity, "man who knew too little" spy caper set in a world entirely populated by sentient machines, most of whom happen to be cars. My expectations were too high (thanks to Pixar's track record) in spite of the early reviews, and I went to the theater with a migraine. Deck stacked against it, Cars 2 nevertheless managed to crack my top 10, displacing Green Lantern for the coveted "not quite as much fun as Thor" slot.

I realize this is probably on the same side of the aisle as a vote of "no confidence," but honestly, migraine notwithstanding, I had fun at the film. It did not clear my Threshold of Awesome, but it did not drown below the waterline of my Threshold of Disappointment. 

Like Green Lantern, however, the more I thought about Cars 2 the more the underlying mythos confused and troubled me. Green Lantern was far worse in this regard because of how the mythos must tie to reality, and how it failed to sate my inner wish-fulfillment appetite, but the principle is the same. I want to exit the theater and be rewarded for continuing to think about the film. And by "rewarded" I mean "uplifted or enlightened," not "given fuel for a rant that might generate ad revenue." 

I'm not going to write the whole rant just now. Here's the short version: many of the villains in this piece are "lemons," makes and models of car known for breaking down a lot. I'm not sure whether we're meant to draw parallels to race or disability, but if you spend too much time thinking along these lines you can't help but be offended on somebody's behalf. "Bad people are physically different from good people" is a well-supported message from this film, and it's a horrible, horrible message.

But your kids totally aren't going to get that, are they? I mean, how smart are kids, REALLY? 

(See? The more I think about it, the more likely I am to get even extra offended.)

I think this means that I had a reasonable amount of fun enjoying a truly insidious film. GREAT. NOW I HAVE GUILT.

(It's a measure of Pixar's greatness that the movie quote that leapt to mind right there was one of their own.)

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