Just got back from seeing Disney•Pixar's Cars 2 at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Here's a few thoughts:
Get ready for a trailer for Brave to be released online soon since one was shown tonight. I always wondered if Pixar would ever do a fairy tale, something that would get them out of their usual setting of a typical North American place (okay, Monsters, Inc. and Ratatouille were set in different places, but not that different, and UP sort of was) sometime in the 1990s or later. I didn't think they would ever do it but then Brave was announced, a story set in medieval times and it wasn't even boy-centric and it was directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman of Lion King fame. Unfortunately Brenda later got the boot. What a sad, sad move, John Lasseter. Still, the crowd at the theater tonight loved the teaser trailer and at the end I even heard one woman lament, "We have to wait a year to see it?"
Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation
As an unabashed lover of shorts and liking the idea of shorts based on prior feature films this was a little treat. Again, the audience loved it. The jokes and gags came fast and frequent. A lot of characterization shoved into a few minutes. And, yes, it takes place after "TS3." It made good use of the reassembled toy team now at Bonnie's house. Look for Mr. Potato Head's new guise and be sure to stay for the stinger scene after the credits. (Of course you'll be staying for it because you're also there to watch the main feature.)
I like every Pixar movie to at least some degree but at the bottom of the totem pole was Cars. I didn't dislike it but I saw it once and felt entirely satisfied with that one viewing and felt little compelling need to see it again (and still haven't yet). I bought the Mater's Tall Tales Blu-Ray and saw Tokyo Mater in 3D with some other movie (I might've even did the same trick I did with Runaway Brain where I bought a ticket for a movie I wanted to see, went in the theater a little early, saw Tokyo Mater in another screen, then went to the screen that was showing the movie I paid for), because, you know, I like the idea of shorts based on prior feature films.
I wasn't expecting the world of Cars 2. Just figured it'd be "fun" and "fun" it was. The movie moves along at a fast pace, wows you with its amazing sets (how much work do they put into some of these scenes that you only see for about three seconds?), and puts a former supporting character into the lead. I'm pretty sure Mater got about five times more screen time than Lightning McQueen and the audience loved it and props to Larry the Cable Guy for some excellent voice work. When you watch it keep a lookout for visual references to at least two prior Pixar films. There was even a probable Disneyland reference in there. And a couple James Bond references. And they indirectly pay tribute to Paul Newman by paying tribute to Doc Hudson.
I suppose people will find something to complain about with this film, but, while it's not Gone With the Wind, I can't think right now what people might complain about. Just about any time somebody makes a movie I respect the very act of creation that they rendered and think there will be something that makes it worthwhile to see. Cars 2 held my attention with stunning visuals, plenty of action (well-choreographed action too), a heaping dose of spy intrigue, and, oh yeah, some "warmth." Since Mater was Joe Ranft's creation I couldn't help but think that Pixar was honoring Joe Ranft by putting Mater front and center in Cars 2. The film speeds to theaters everywhere on June 24th.