From Victor Ireland:
I suppose I'm risking being cut off from the light of your grace permanently, but it's worth the risk because I think you have some answering to do for your "Cars 2" review.
[Truthful, Ego Stroking Section]
First of all, let me say I enjoy your reviews in general. I also really like your re-launched PBS show, despite my initial misgivings about your choice of reviewers. In the polluted, often secretly subsidized land of movie critics, I appreciate that I can come to you for the straight poop on whatever latest movie we're thinking about seeing. And so, when I find a review where our opinions diverge so radically, it really blows the fuzz right out of my navel.
My navel is now spotless, thanks to your "Cars 2" review.
[Bitingly Truthful, What-the-Hell-Were-You-On-When-You-Saw-This Section]
Prior to attending the show with my wife and teen kids, all of us Pixar fans, I had read your review. I was hopeful - another Pixar home run, or at least a triple. After all, it was ~87 on a 100 point scale! That territory has Pixar tags all over the place. They OWN that part of town. But then I made the mistake of reading Rotten Tomatoes. The top critic average was 44%. Did I read that right? That couldn't be right. This was a Pixar movie. But, putting my faith in our sublime relationship instead of those weekend crutches at RT, we went to the movie.
Having seen the movie, I have to say you were coming off some kind of fever dream, or maybe on a new, higher dosage of medication when you saw "Cars 2." For Pixar, it was AWFUL. As a general movie, it was below-average. Take away the beautiful graphics and listen to the dialogue, and I can't imagine you'd say it was good. The story, too, was SUCH a reach. The ending amounted to a Scooby-doo mystery with the out-of-left-field bad guy saying "I'd have got away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"
We laughed many times in the AWESOME Toy Story 'toon that preceded "Cars 2." I laughed out loud exactly twice in the main movie. It was so leaden, so devoid of that Pixar magic, so utterly absent the breadth of action and spy movie winks to the audience. There were a few, but they were far too narrow in range. I mean, in the beginning where the car plays dead underwater, it SCREAMED for a sound cue to wink at the "Bourne Ultimatum" ending. There were so many missed opportunities. I was fine with moving the setting to the world at large, but if that was to be done, make sure it has the punch to match. I feel that by moving to the different setting they lost fans of the slow-charm original, and by executing so poorly on the huge opportunities of this bigger playground, they lost everyone else. In the end, no one wins.
Will this end our relationship? No. Am I seeing you with different eyes? Well, frankly, yes. I urge you to see the movie again unmedicated, and actually listen to what they're saying. Analyze the plot like you do other movies. This is not a fun caper movie. This is not a fun spy parody. This is not a fun car movie. This is not a fun... movie. Watching again, I think you'll see that and end up somewhere closer to that 44% aggregate of Top Critics -- I certainly did.
Until then, Mr. Ebert, I have my eye on you. Consider your future keystrokes very carefully...a fan is a terrible thing to waste.