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Lightning McQueen is Back in Worldwide Adventure 'Cars 2'

Lightning McQueen and Mater in "Cars 2"
Lightning McQueen and Mater in "Cars 2"

A 2006 animated hit from Pixar introduced a world of talking motor vehicles, especially a shiny red racecar and his rust-encrusted best friend, a tow truck named "Mater." Now they're back for an adventure that takes them around the world. Here's a look at Cars 2.

"Wish me luck."
MATER: "You go get 'em, buddy."

In the original Cars, celebrity racecar "Lightning McQueen" is stranded way off the beaten track, in the town of Radiator Springs where he learns to appreciate life in the slow lane. In this sequel, "Lightning" is back for a star-studded series of international competitions …and he brings good-hearted, but dimwitted, Mater along as part of his crew.

LIGHTNING: "Oh, look at this! Okay, now, Mater remember: best behavior."
MATER: "You got it, buddy. Hey, what's that?"

From Tokyo to Paris to Rome, Mater skids from one misadventure to another until he crashes into a team of spies trying to solve a mystery affecting the world's energy supply.

AGENT HOLLEY: "There's an American liaison operating under deep cover."
MATER: "Domo arigato" (thank you)
AGENT FINN: "These Americans are clearly master spies."
AGENT HOLLEY: "Oh, you've got to be joking."

John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studio, poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Cars 2", in Los Angeles.
John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studio, poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Cars 2", in Los Angeles.

And "joking" is the key word for John Lasseter, a co-founder of the Pixar animation studio and director of both the original and "Cars 2."

"We can take things that you've seen in our world or other movies and re-imagine them - or, as we say, 'car-ify' them - and it's fun."

Lasseter, a pioneer of computer animation, is now chief creative officer at the Walt Disney studio, which purchased Pixar in 2006. While that takes up most of his time, Lasseter could n-o-t resist getting behind the wheel again for the "Cars" sequel.

"I am so passionate about cars," explains Lasseter. "My father was a parts manager at a Chevrolet dealership in Los Angeles, and I worked summers there as a parts delivery boy. I just love cars and it's so much fun to bring cars to life and take a look at their world and everything about that."

AGENT FINN: "I never properly introduced myself: Finn McMissile, British Intelligence."
MATER: "Tow Mater, average intelligence."

Michael Caine
Michael Caine

The voices for Cars 2 include Oscar-winning English actor Michael Caine who admits he also was driven to make the film.

"I've got three grandchildren, and the reason I wanted to do it was I wanted them to see me, because if you think about it, the films that I make little children can't go and see," Caine explains. "So I've got this tremendous bond with my grandchildren through this film. It was a wonderful opportunity for me."

Caine joins the ensemble from the first film, especially comic actor Daniel Lawrence Whitney, better known by his stage name "Larry the Cable Guy." Whitney …or Larry …says his homespun humor is a good match for playing Mater.

"He likes people for what they are. He doesn't judge anybody for how they look or anything like that. He's just an easygoing, friendly guy who just wants to be friends with everybody. So that's why I like Mater," Larry explains.

PIT CREW: "Your suspension stats look good …tire pressure is excellent …he's got plenty of fuel."
MATER: "And he's awesome."

Even with all the action, Cars 2 is ultimately about two best friends: Mater and Lightning McQueen. Owen Wilson is back for the sequel as the bright-eyed racecar.

"With this movie, it was this exciting new adventure with the world grand prix …and that the friendship between them has a sweetness to it," Wilson says. "But there is also the hilarity of seeing Mater as a kind of fish out of water in this sort of spy intrigue and stuff. I think it's very appealing."

In what has become a Pixar trademark, Cars 2 also advances the art of computerized animation with realistic depictions of international landmarks. However, as this is a world of cars, each is imaginatively fashioned from wheels, fenders, grillwork and other motor vehicle parts.