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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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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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