I just did the obligatory auntie thing with my nephew, who hadn't seen this film before. He's 3. He initially got very excited over the vehicles, but then kept asking about Lightning McQueen.
Well, I think he did. I was repeatedly asked "wen [undecipherable unless you live with this kid on a day to day basis] back?" He seemed to settle down during the sections when Lightning McQueen was present. I infer the rest.
Technically, the film is very attractive. Visually, it's a lovely bit of CGI.
Unfortunately, the plot is more Disney second-string, straight-to-video than convincing big-budget release, complete with a nasty bit of character shuffling that is liable to disappoint youngsters.
This film, like the first 'Cars', is essentially a 'fish out of water' story. However, whilst 'Cars' took an ego-reducing, hubris-laden, 'Doc Hollywood'-style slant to improving the social behaviour of arrogant racing car, Lightning McQueen, the focus for this film switches to Hicksville-raised back-up tow-truck Mater - and a plot line in which good ol' boy Mater is mistaken for an undercover agent and (North by Northwest-style), ends up working with British Secret service Agent vehicles voiced by Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer.
This bit of 'sleight of character' is quite misleading: the central character for this film is clearly Mater. However, despite the fact he's only in the film for a few minutes, Lightning McQueen dominates the advertising and merchandise. It's not a bad film. The plot and dialogue are a bit lightweight compared with the first in the series, but the graphics are stunning. It's the complete switch in character focus, the concealing marketing, and the resultant betrayal of little kids (and the incrimination of their adults in this process) that are perhaps most questionable.