There’s little thematic continuity between the original Cars; and the sequel Cars 2; the former was a racing movie with appeals to small-town values overtaken by time, and the latter is a slapstick spy movie about hanging out with embarrassing friends.
I’m a sucker for slick spy movies, and Cars 2 delivers exactly that . Michael Caine is tonnes of fun as the improbably-named Finn McMissile, a James Bond car in more than one sense. Lightning McQueen is sidelined in favour of the Mater, who bumbles his way between extremely pretty locales in the Cars version of the world.
Throughout there is a mysterious evil mastermind, a nefarious scheme on a global scale, villainous henchmen, car karate, and appearances by car version of the Pope and the Queen of England. It’s all quite fun.
Mater’s complete lack of self-awareness for most of the film grated on me, but it’s a minor complaint in a fun movie.