Australian Council on Children and the Media

Cars 2

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Not recommended under 7, Parental Guidance recommended to 10 (Violence, Scary scenes; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cars 2
  • a review of Cars 2 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 June 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not recommended due to violent and scary scenes and coarse language. It is also too long for this age group.
Children 7-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violent and scary scenes and coarse language.
Children 11 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Cars 2
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence and coarse language
Length 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Cars 2 begins at sea amid a field of sinister looking oilrigs where British secret agent car Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) has discovered a German scientist named Professor Z (Thomas Kretschmann) unloading a secret weapon. Before Finn is able to do more than take a picture of the secret weapon he is discovered, and a shootout between Finn and Professor Z’s henchmen erupts, with Finn narrowly escaping.

 Meanwhile back at Radiator Springs USA, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) after winning his fourth consecutive Piston Cup, has returned home for some well deserved fun and relaxation with his best friend Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). However, after being taunted by arrogant Italian Formula One champion Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro), 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, believing that he has information that will identifying 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 so that he can infiltrate the criminal gang while 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 continues and it is up to Mater to save the day.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Car racing; espionage; sabotage

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains cartoon action violence, destruction, accidental harm and intense situations throughout, including

  • An intense action scene near the beginning of the film involves Finn McMissile and a number of henchmen wielding machineguns. One car looses 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 wielding flame throwers threaten Finn who dives off the oilrig and into the water. A large battleship fires missiles, torpedoes and machine guns 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, resulting in the car being badly damaged. Later we see the battered secret agent car bound to a car hoist with the criminals threatening him with torture.                
  • Several cars crash into Finn, pushing him towards another car wielding a flamethrower. There is a large explosion with cars hurled up into the air, but Finn escapes uninjured. 
  • Mater is towed by Fin at high speeds while being chased by a number of criminal cars that fire machineguns and missiles.  
  • After nearly being killed, Finn makes the comment, “You never feel so alive as when you’re nearly dead”. 
  • Holley Shiftwell shoots a car with a taser rendering him unconscious.  
  • An electromagnetic gun is fired at a number of racing cars.  The cars’ engines explode with smoke pouring out of the engines and multiple car crashes resulting.
  • Mater fires machineguns at criminal cars resulting large amounts of wreckage.
  • Mater, Finn and Holley are tied to a clockwork mechanism inside Big Ben There are some tense moments as they are nearly crushed.
  • Towards the end of the film we see Mater, who has a bomb attached to his engine driving backwards in a frenzied manner away from Lightning McQueen.  Mater fires rocket propelled boosters and crashes through street barriers and Finn is threatened by a laser wielding shark boat.
  • 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, appearing to be willing to die.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned scenes, children in this age group are likely to be scared by some of the scary characters, such as the boats that look like sharks.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may be scared by some of the scary characters, such as the boats that look like sharks.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

No specific product placement of concern occurs. However, the characters in the film will be marketed as toys and other merchandise for children.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Reference to Lightning McQueen and Sally being “love birds”.
  • Mater talks about having a date with his new girlfriend.
  • Reference is made to 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.
  • In reference to being attracted to another car’s fenders and wheels, a female car says that she would have to get some coolant.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In a couple of scenes cars are served cocktail styled drinks. The drinks are fuel for the cars but are depicted as cocktails. A car holds up a cocktail and makes a toast.
  • Mater makes reference to being able to get free drinks at a Grand Prix party.

Coarse language

Cars 2 contains some occasional low-level coarse language, putdowns, name calling and toilet humour that young children may imitate.  Examples include:

  • what a jerk, bad arse, screw you up, tree hugger, losers, cry-baby butt, idiot, rust bucket, heap, rattle trap, lunatic.    

In a nutshell

Cars 2 is an entertaining animated action comedy targeting a wide audience. Although having some of the same main characters as the first Cars film, Cars 2 is a completely new story following the adventures of the tow truck Tow Mater. Parents should note that the film is not recommended for children under seven years of age. The film is too long for younger children and the film’s plot a little too complex. Younger children may find a number of scenes scary or confusing, while the film also contains adult themes.       

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • friendship is one of the most important things in life and should be considered as a treasure.
  • being rich will not make you feel better about yourself.
  • people should be more accepting of the differences in others and less judgmental.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

Parents may also wish to discuss the gender stereotyping and the manner in which male characters dominate the film.

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