Cars 2

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Cars 2 Movie Poster Image
Cars sequel revs up action and mixes in spy thrills.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 160 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 175 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Although the movie isn't educational at first glance, kids will pick up information about alternative fuel and why you should never underestimate your own knowledge and abilities. They also get an amusing look at Japanese, Italian, and English culture and landmarks.

Positive Messages

Mater learns to stop doubting himself and his intelligence and have the confidence necessary to help defeat the criminals of the story. Lightning McQueen accepts that Mater doesn't need to change to fit in with Lightning's slick racing buddies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mater is a loving, selfless friend. He's willing to put himself at risk even though he's not really a trained spy. Lightning and Mater are wonderful examples of best friends who may not seem like they have a lot in common but love each other just the way they are and always have each other's backs -- or in this case, trunks.

Violence & Scariness

Much more violence here than in the original -- the evil Professor Z and his henchcars use guns, chase other cars until they crash, and even kill two cars (one with a compactor, leaving him a crumpled square of metal, the other by torturing him with their secret weapon). Several characters get "dents" and other injuries from their run-ins with the villainous vehicles. Voice-commanded technology allows Mater, Holley, and Finn to use sophisticated weapons in their high-speed chases.

Sexy Stuff

Lightning refers to Sally as "his girl," and Mater flirts with Holley. Groupie female cars swirl around the racing cars.


A few insults like "stupid fool," "shoot," and "idiot."


Although there are no real product placements in the movie (aside from car models like the Gremlin and Acer), the Disney merchandise machine has an enormous number of Cars toys and other tie-ins -- from LEGOs and stuffed animals to coloring books and figurines to sippy cups and sleeping bags.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

At a party, various cars drink "cocktails."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cars 2 is the fast-paced sequel to Pixar's hit movie Cars that's more like a kid-friendly James Bond action thriller than the original movie's fish-out-of-water adventure. There are more high-speed chases here than in the original and a surprising amount of gun violence; a couple of car characters are even killed, which makes the G rating a bit of a surprise. Expect a bit of mild language, including insults like "idiot" and "fool," as well as tame flirting between smitten cars. The movie's overall message of being true to yourself and loyal to your friends is coupled with an overt call for alternative fuel and environmentalism. Note: The 3-D version of the movie may make certain parts feel even more immediate and intense for some kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykitterlee June 25, 2011

Way too violent

This movie is extremely violent. I can NOT believe it got a G rating. There are so many guns, machine guns, bombs, etc. Many cars die, one is tortured and ki... Continue reading
Adult Written bySomeSJW January 29, 2019

Needs to be rated PG-13

This is in NO way a kids movie what so ever. Adult themes are rampant in this film. If you value your child's innocence, then definitely DO NOT show them... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byGoldNuggs December 17, 2020

Good and Bad

This movie is actually not as bad as people say it is. The humor does not land very well, but the story is not bad. Except for the fact that this is a "Car... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old July 20, 2020


My Cars 2 review got taken down; but in my opinion, it's the best Cars film.

What's the story?

In Pixar's much-anticipated sequel to Cars, the focus shifts slightly off Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) onto his best friend, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) in CARS 2. Challenged by an Italian Formula One car, Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro), Lightning agrees to join a World Grand Prix taking place in Japan, Italy, and England that's meant to show the world that alternative bio-fuel works just as well as regular gasoline. As the races begin, it's clear that someone is sabotaging the cars to blame the eco-friendly fuel. In a case of mistaken identity, Mater is unintentionally drawn into a British and American intelligence mission led by Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) to uncover who's behind the attacks. Mater needs to help stop the masterminds before Lightning becomes their next target.

Is it any good?

Pixar is the standard bearer for animated movies that appeal equally to children and adults, and this is no exception. There has yet to be a Pixar film that doesn't make more than $100 million or score a devoted following from both critics and audiences. The animation is gorgeous, the action sequences crisp, the voice acting impeccable, and the inside jokes funny. Cars 2 is not a masterpiece when stacked up against the Toy Story sequels, but it's a fun summer spectacle that will make kids think about what it means to really be yourself, even when there's pressure to change.

Mater is now the protagonist, and the world is the setting; while that expands the action and the automobile humor (geisha cars, the Queen as a vintage Rolls, and Prince Wheeliam as a Bentley), it does limit the amount of time that we spend with our old friends from Radiator Springs. Caine and Emily Mortimer are perfectly cast as the British intelligence agents who mistake Mater for an American spy, but in the end, this is Larry the Cable Guy's shining moment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Cars 2 's message about being yourself, dents and all. How does this apply to Mater? Why are underdogs so much more satisfying to root for than characters who always win?

  • The first movie was a "fish out of water" story about a city slicker race car in a sleepy little town; how does the sequel use the same theme but focus on Mater?

  • What made kids want to see this movie -- the story or all the product tie-ins? Do kids want a product because Cars characters are pictured on it?

Movie details

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