Aug 10, 2011

Tow Truck Mater Takes on the World in “Cars 2”

Mater is known for tall tales, superior backwards driving, tractor tipping and uncompromising loyalty.

He’s also a secret agent… though unwittingly.

Disney/Pixar’s “Cars 2” sends the affable tow truck overseas, along with his best buddy Lightning McQueen, who’s competing in the first-ever World Grand Prix – a race through Japan, Italy and the U.K. to determine who is the world’s fastest car.

Mater’s intentions are good. He wants to lend a helping tire to Lightning and be there to see his best friend win the race and get the glory. Never having been overseas, Mater is a bit naïve to life outside Radiator Springs.

Then he meets Holley Shiftwell. She’s sleek, smart and sophisticated, and she’s interested in him! Mater is smitten with this rookie field spy who’s been sent to rendezvous with an American agent. Her colleague, master British spy Finn McMissile, is the best in the business with all the gadgets and savvy moves to prove it, but even he’s impressed when he meets Mater and finds his rusty undercover disguise particularly admirable.

It’s exciting to take Mater around the world and put him in situations that are totally unique to that country,” says John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. “This is where the spark of the second part of the story came from as I was traveling. I had all these characters in my head, and I found myself constantly laughing, imagining what Mater would do in these different situations. How would he handle driving on the wrong side of the road in London? What would it be like to have Mater lost in the maze of streets in Tokyo, with no English street signs? And how would he function in Italy, where the traffic signals are just a mere suggestion of what you might want to do?

Apart from the chance to take the characters all over the world, and explore the world of international racing and espionage, the thing that appealed most to Lasseter was the heart and humor inherent in the characters and the story.

The humor in ‘Cars 2’ comes from the personality of the characters,” says the director, “and seeing them in interesting, fish-out-of-water situations. But at its emotional core, the movie is about Lightning McQueen and Mater’s friendship, which gets tested in a very different and interesting way. It’s about how the strength of a friendship can be tested. What may be solid in one place can appear much different in another. Put a friendship to the test under a different set of circumstances and in a different setting — how true and deep is this friendship, really?

Lasseter is particularly fond of Mater. “Mater is such a special character; he’s honest and completely straightforward and tells it exactly like it is,” says the director. “He’s just fun and lovable. When a character as innocent as that discovers that people are not laughing with him, like he’s always thought his entire life, but laughing at him, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see him become immediately and more realistically aware and learn the truth about himself — or what he thinks is the truth about himself. It’s very touching, because through his own journey, his friendship with Lightning McQueen is eventually made even stronger. They both realize that, you know what, Mater is who he is, and it’s not Mater who has to change, it’s the world that should change.”

Opening across the Philippines on August 24 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular format, “Cars 2” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.

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