Frantic, loud, colorful, like a bowlful of the sugariest sugar cereal ever made, "Cars 2" is like Red Bull for Babies, pure unfiltered stimulation without any of the thematic weight of the original. What it loses in gentle observations about the value of small town life, it more than makes up for in explosions, spy movie conventions bent to comic effect, and more explosions. "Cars 2" is Mater's movie every bit as much as "Cars" was Lightning McQueen's movie, and it'll be interesting to see if that shift in perspective bothers children or if they even notice. My guess is they'll be so busy trying to untangle the film's narrative that they won't notice anything else. . . .Justin Chang
I do have a few hesitations. The film plays awfully rough for a Pixar movie, killing a lot of cars onscreen. A lot. There's also a lot of gunplay. I think it will surprise many parents. It's obviously not "graphic," but there's a lot of it, and the film manages to suggest real peril for the various characters. I think Pixar might even be surprised by the way some parents react to it, because there's no way parents won't be seeing this film this summer. There are a lot of bathroom jokes, too. Easy laughs aren't really what I think of when I think of Pixar. . . .
If "Cars" was perhaps the least engaging of Pixar's hugely successful animated features, John Lasseter and his team have hit the creative accelerator with the unexpectedly delightful "Cars 2." The rare sequel that not only improves on but retroactively justifies its predecessor, this lightning-paced caper-comedy shifts the franchise into high gear with international intrigue, spy-movie spoofery and more automotive puns than you can shake a stickshift at, handling even its broader stretches with sophistication, speed and effortless panache. High-performance B.O. is assured, but as with "Cars," ancillary/merchandising is where this expertly souped-up entertainment will leave others in the dust. . . .Todd McCarthy
@ Hollywood Reporter
Even as recent Pixar films have benefited from increased simplicity and modulation of mood and effect, Lasseter keeps Cars 2 running at close to the red line from start to finish with nary a pit stop to refuel. On balance, it's more exhilarating than exhausting, but there are moments when sensory overload threatens to set in. More is better seems to be the by-word, but a bit less aw-shucks humor and Looney Tunes-like madness over the long haul would have made for a more agreeable balance. . . .