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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Cars 2

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Lightning McQueen, voice by Owen Wilson, is seen in the animated movie Cars 2."
Start your engines for the road trip of the summer in "Cars 2" (Disney/Pixar), a winsome round-the-world adventure that provides fun for the entire family. This sequel to the 2006 hit "Cars" expands its universe beyond Route 66 as our anthropomorphic car heroes meet their foreign counterparts—including the Popemobile—with hilarious results.

Along the way, amid clever sight gags and belly laughs, "Cars 2" offers good lessons about friendship, family and self-esteem.

"Cars 2" picks up where its predecessor left off, in Radiator Springs, whither Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) returns home after winning his fourth Piston Cup race. Waiting for him is his faithful pal, the hapless tow truck, Tow Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy).

"We've got a whole summer's worth of best-friend fun to do," Mater promises.

But there's more in store than tipping tractors in corn fields. McQueen accepts a challenge from cocky Italian Formula One racecar Francesco Bernoulli (voice of John Turturro), to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix across three countries. The race is organized by Sir Miles Axlerod (voice of Eddie Izzard) to promote Allinol, his alternative clean-burning fuel. (This is just one of the film's many environmental messages.)

Traveling by equally anthropomorphized airplanes, trains, and boats (with Disney's merchandising possibilities taking, no doubt, a quantum leap in the process), McQueen and Mater visit Tokyo, Italy and London, and the inevitable clash of cultures ensues.

Meanwhile, there's a parallel story straight from the James Bond playbook. The super spy of British Intelligence, an Aston Martin named Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) and his assistant, the comely Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer), are tracking evil autos bent on world domination. An American agent holds the key. Mater is mistaken for the Yank operative, and the entertaining mix-ups begin.

As with "The Incredibles," our car spies face danger with much bravado and derring-do. The villains are cars no longer in production—such as Pacers and Gremlins—unloved by the public and labeled lemons. Subject to ridicule, they share a lack of self-esteem with Mater. Acceptance of others and embracing differences are among the film's key themes.

Much of the humor springs from sight gags, as director John Lasseter claims the human world for machines. Passing through airport security, cars remove their tires. Gambling cars throw fuzzy dice at casino tables, and head for the restroom when they begin to leak oil.

Asked an obvious question, Mater responds, "Is the Popemobile Catholic?" And before you know it, there he is, in a nonspeaking cameo, a stately white vehicle topped with a miter, watching the Italian leg of the race, and escorted by trams which appear to wear clerical birettas.

As in "Toy Story 3," some of the action in "Cars 2"—mainly the spy scenes showcasing explosions, gunfights, and car "torture"—may be too intense for the littlest of viewers. Those elements aside, though, this is an ideal family film.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences, all ages admitted.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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