Cars 2 begins at sea, in a field of sinister oilrigs. British secret agent car Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) has discovered German scientist Professor Z (Thomas Kretschmann) unloading a secret weapon. Before Finn can do more than take a picture of the secret weapon, he’s discovered. There’s a shootout between Finn and Professor Z’s henchmen, and Finn narrowly escapes.
Back at Radiator Springs USA, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has won his fourth consecutive Piston Cup. He’s come home for some fun and relaxation with his best friend, Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). But he’s taunted by arrogant Italian Formula One champion Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro). So Lightning agrees to enter a series of Grand Prix races, taking Mater along as pit crew.
The first Grand Prix race is held in Tokyo, where British agents Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) mistake Mater for a secret agent. They believe that he has information that will identify the mastermind behind the mysterious secret weapon. Unfortunately for Mater, the criminals also have the wrong idea about his identity and are out to get him. Meanwhile the engines of several race cars mysteriously explode.
Finn and Shiftwell give Mater a disguise and send him to Paris to infiltrate the criminal gang. Lightning participates in the second Grand Prix in Italy where yet more race car engines explode. The final race is set in London where the battle with the criminals goes on. It’s up to Mater to save the day.
Car racing; espionage; sabotage
This movie contains cartoon action violence, destruction, accidental harm and intense situations throughout. For example:
- An intense action scene near the beginning of the movie involves Finn McMissile and several henchmen with machineguns. One car loses control and skids through an oil slick, crashing through guard rails into the water below. Bombs attached to rolling drums cause a massive explosion that destroys part of the oilrig. Cars with flamethrowers threaten Finn, who dives off the oilrig and into the water. A large battleship fires missiles, torpedoes and machineguns at Finn.
- During a fight in a toilet between a secret agent car and three criminal cars, the criminal cars repeatedly crash head on into the sides of the secret agent. The secret agent car is badly damaged. Later the battered secret agent car is tied to a car hoist, and the criminals threaten to torture him.
- Several cars crash into Finn, pushing him towards another car that has a flamethrower. A large explosion throws cars up into the air, but Finn escapes unhurt.
- Finn tows Mater at high speeds while being chased by criminal cars that fire machineguns and missiles.
- After nearly being killed, Finn says, ‘You never feel so alive as when you’re nearly dead’.
- Holley Shiftwell shoots a car with a taser. This knocks the car out.
- An electromagnetic gun is fired at some racing cars. The cars’ engines explode, and smoke pours out of the engines. There are lots of car crashes.
- Mater fires machineguns at criminal cars, and lots of cars are wrecked.
- Mater, Finn and Holley are tied to a clockwork mechanism inside Big Ben. There are some tense moments as they’re nearly crushed.
- Towards the end of the movie, Mater has a bomb attached to his engine. He drives backwards in a crazy way away from Lightning McQueen. Mater fires rocket-propelled boosters and crashes through street barriers. Finn is threatened by a shark boat with a laser.
- Holley Shiftwell tasers Professor Z.
- In a bid to stop a voice-activated bomb attached to his engine from exploding, Mater confronts Sir Miles Axlerod. Mater seems willing to die.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- Characters talk about Lightning McQueen and Sally being ‘love birds’.
- Mater talks about having a date with his new girlfriend.
- Characters talk about a female car admiring a male car’s wheels.
- Mater says he needs a ‘proper detailing done before I meet a lady friend’.
- One car says that he wants to siphon another car’s gas.
- Holley Shiftwell refers to herself as Mater’s girlfriend.
- A female car talks about being attracted to another car’s fenders and wheels. Then she says she’ll have to get some coolant.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- In a couple of scenes, cars are served cocktail-style drinks. The drinks are fuel for the cars but look like cocktails. A car holds up a cocktail and makes a toast.
- Mater talks about being able to get free drinks at a Grand Prix party.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
There’s no specific product placement of concern in this movie. But characters in the movie will be marketed as toys and other merchandise for children.
Cars 2 contains some occasional low-level coarse language, put-downs, name-calling and toilet humour that young children might imitate.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Cars 2 is an entertaining animated action comedy targeting a wide audience. It has the same main characters from the first Cars movie, but is a completely new story that follows the adventures of the tow truck Tow Mater.
You should note that Cars 2 isn’t recommended for children under seven. The movie is too long for younger children, its plot is too complex, and it also contains adult themes. Younger children might find some scenes scary or confusing.
The main messages from this movie are the following:
- Friendship is one of the most important things in life, and you should think of it as a treasure.
- Being rich won’t make you feel better about yourself.
- People should be more accepting of, and less judgmental about, differences between themselves and others.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of:
- thinking about your behaviour and making things right, as Lightning McQueen does
- sticking things out, as Mater does.
You could also talk about the gender stereotyping in the movie, and how the male characters lead the storyline.