There are three sure things at the movies: Harry Potter trailers elicit cheers; Twilight trailers elicit squeals; and anything Pixar is fantastic.
Now, about that last one…
Have you seen the reviews for Cars 2?
At last look, its Rotten Tomatoes rating was a pretty rotten 38 percent.
Things were somewhat better at Metacritic.com, where the sequel's concensus score was 60 out of 100.
Still, both sites' stats make one thing clear: Cars 2 is the most only critically loathed Pixar movie ever.
Yes, even the original Cars, which was no darling of reviewers, got by with better-than-average notices.
A sampling of the harsh words for its sequel:
• "Cars 2 is a wreck." (UGO.com)
• "[Its] premise …is a lemon." (Time magazine)
• "[M]aybe [Pixar] was tired of turning out one masterpiece after another and decided to coast for a while." (New York Times)
So, what happened? Why is a film from the esteemed house of Toy Story getting slammed as bad, if not worse, than Mr. Popper's Penguins?
The basic gripe seems to be that the film's got too much Mater—that's the Larry the Cable Guy-voiced tow truck for those of you who don't live with an in-house Cars expert.
Speaking of 4-year-olds…
As a rule, they don't spend their days pouring over A.O. Scott articles.
In other words, while Cars 2 isn't being reviewed like a Pixar film, it's expected to make money like one. Its opening-weekend gross will almost certainly top that of Ratatouille ($47 million), and potentially rival those of WALL-E ($63.1 million) and Up ($68.1 million)—Oscar-winners all.
Says BoxOffice.com editor Phil Contrino, "Parents may groan heading in, but there's no way they'll be able to convince their kids that it's not worth going to see."
Just remember: It's not A.O. Scott's fault that your kids don't read him.
Here's a quick look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores for the previous Pixar movies: