Right now Cars 2 has 23 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a Tomatometer score of 57% - it’s rotten. There are still a couple of days until release, and most of the big papers (ie, the easiest lays and the stupidest critics, usually pulled over to film writing from the farm report or something) don’t weigh in until opening day, but this looks like it could be the end of an era. Cars 2 might be Pixar’s first rotten film on Rotten Tomatoes.
The original Cars is currently the lowest rated Pixar film on the Tomatometer, with 74%. Pretty much every other Pixar film comes in at the 90s, with the last two Toy Story movies having vaunted 100% ratings. Of course Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t really mean much; as an aggregator service it’s troubled because it deals only in absolutes, which is why so many middle of the road/wishy washy Super 8 reviews got fresh ratings. And I’m sure many of the upcoming Cars 2 middle of the road/wishy washy/leaning to negative reviews will also get fresh ratings. Metacritic, which has more nuance, is a better indicator of real critical consensus (and Cars 2 is currently doing middling there right now).
Still, there’s something psychologically monumental about Cars 2 possibly being the first rotten Pixar film. It’ll probably be one of the more profitable Pixar films - there’s already been billions in Cars merch sold, and there’s a new wave of it on the store shelves right now - but never has the question of Pixar’s future been starker. What’s the direction for Pixar? Is the quest for quality officially taking a back seat to the quest for cash?