Cars 2 is different from the original -- less an idea movie, more an action-packed parody of suspense movies from James Bond to Hitchcock classics like "North by Northwest" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much." I've watched a fair number of these, and the clever send-up had me laughingn out loud. Mater is in the old Jimmy Stewart role of the innocent who gets entangled in a mystery by accident, and has to figure things out as he goes along. I know some fans of the original were disappointed that Lightning McQueen wasn't the lead, but he could never have played the innocent like Mater does. Although Mater spends much of the movie looking and feeling foolish, in the end he shows that he has his own areas of intelligence & can use his strengths to save the day. That could be a very empowering message to kids who feel out of step with peers or inadequate in some area -- we all have strengths, and we have to find them and use them as best we can. Lightning McQueen has to learn to put loyalty to his friend ahead of looking cool. I like the way the female characters are portrayed. The movie avoids the cliches of having Lightning's girlfriend, Sally, act as an obstacle to his adventures, or having Lightning move on to a new love. The relationship remains strong, and Sally wants her boyfriend to do what he does best. Cars 2 also avoids the movie cliche of pitting the girlfriend against the buddy, and I'm grateful for that. Although Sally doesn't play a big part in the movie, Mater meets a female secret agent who's a very strong character. And I applaud the environmentalist themes in the story. As for the violence -- yes, there is violence in this movie: cartoonish violence, not bloody. If you are looking for a movie for a very young child or a very sensitive child, you might want to look elsewhere. But if your child is up to Star Wars, then your child has already seen an equal or greater level of violence.