7 Movies Like Cars 2 (2011)

Staff & contributors

Proving that children's entertainment can be legitimate art like any other kind of cinema, the sequel to 2014's Paddington displays a stronger love for community and storytelling than many other adult-oriented productions. It may be cutesy and innocent, but Paddington 2 also uses its stunning visual effects and intricate production design to prop up a sophisticated story about discrimination, staying true to one's self, and (most surprisingly) the prison-industrial complex. It's a proper throwback to another era of family movies that offers something far more substantial to young children and genuinely moving moments for the parents and children at heart.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Kids

Actor: Aaron Neil, Alex Jordan, Ben Miller, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Cal McCrystal, Catherine Shepherd, Claire Keelan, Dan Antopolski, David J Biscoe, David Sant, Deepak Anand, Eileen Atkins, Enzo Squillino Jr., Geoffrey Lumb, Gus Brown, Hiten Patel, Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, Jag Patel, Jamie Demetriou, Jessica Hynes, Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley, Joel Fry, Julie Walters, Justin Edwards, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Kya Garwood, Louis Partridge, Madeleine Harris, Maggie Steed, Marie-France Alvarez, Meera Syal, Michael Gambon, Michael Mears, Nadine Marshall, Nicholas Lumley, Nicholas Woodeson, Noah Taylor, Peter Capaldi, Richard Ayoade, Robbie Gee, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Shola Adewusi, Simon Farnaby, Stephen McDade, Tim Fitzhigham, Tom Conti, Tom Davis, Tom Knight

Director: Paul King

“They called me uppity. Uppity n*****. And I loved it”. That’s how this excellent documentary, about the first professional black racing driver Willy T. Ribbs, starts. It summarizes the strong personality of a champion who excelled in tracks that were filled with confederate flags.

The documentary explains the details of the difficulties that Ribbs went through in the 70s and 80s, but also the people who supported him and recognized his talent. It’s by no way a sad movie, on the contrary, even when Ribbs is talking about people spitting wherever he walks or about the death threats escalating, his unharmed determination is at the center of the story.

This is an inspiring documentary about a character who never got his worth in the history books. I was full of shivers by the first half-hour mark.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Adam Carolla, Al Unser Jr., Bernie Ecclestone, Bobby Unser, Chase Austin, David Hobbs, Doug Boles, Geraldine Ribbs, Ian Brown, Nate Adams, Paul Newman, Phillip Ribbs, Willy T. Ribbs

Director: Adam Carolla, Nate Adams

Rating: Not Rated

When thinking about one’s family, we tend to remember our parents as parents, and rarely as people of their own. Ethel & Ernest, based on Raymond Briggs’ beloved graphic memoir of his own parents, instead focuses on two ordinary spouses in extraordinary times, sharing some of the day-to-day moments that show their affection, but is clearly marked by the times they’re in, materially and politically. The watercolor design is a cleaner, more modern update of the original illustrations, while Briggs’ handwritten speech bubbles still retain their character through Jim Broadbent’s and Brenda Blethyn’s voices. It’s just a loving, but still honest, depiction of one’s parents, one that makes you think about your own.

Genre: Animation, Drama, War

Actor: Alex Jordan, Brenda Blethyn, Duncan Wisbey, Gillian Hanna, Harry Collett, Jim Broadbent, June Brown, Luke Treadaway, Pam Ferris, Peter Wight, Raymond Briggs, Roger Allam, Simon Day, Virginia McKenna

Director: Roger Mainwood

Consisting almost entirely of a single camera angle and long stretches of either silence or mundane conversation, The Plains makes for a particularly challenging—but incredibly unique—example of slow cinema. While its premise may seem almost too minimalist for its own good, the way the film is set up immediately draws us toward how distant people in the present day can be to each other despite our urbanized society. Stuck in this car with these two characters, one becomes hyperaware of how things are both moving too quickly and too slowly, and how so much of life is made up of the in-between moments. The film's fiction elements eventually break the docudrama illusion a little too bluntly (mainly through some suspiciously structured dialogue), but by then one should be too invested to want to get off.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Andrew Rakowski, Cheri LeCornu, David Easteal, Inga Rakowski

Director: David Easteal

Electrick Children is the debut film for director Rebecca Thomas and one of the most unique and visually stunning films I’ve seen in a while. This gem is about a teenager born and raised in a religious community who believes she has been impregnated with the son of God from a cassette tape she listened to. She decides to run away to neighboring Las Vegas in search of the real father, “the man who sings on the cassette tape.” Heavy stuff, man. Electrick Children is one of those films you see once and it stays with you. It deals with teenagers so delicately and accurately, depicting the butterflies, the excitement, the romance, the heartbreak, the trials and tribulations of this age and beyond. Its cinematography is hypnotizing and its soundtrack is divine (listen to Top of the Hill by Conduits on repeat and it’ll start to have an impact on your life.) Its plot is completely fresh and is able to grab and keep your attention from the first second until the very end. Watching this film made me want to go back in time and fall in love all over again. It made me feel lusty and gave me butterflies and made my heart flutter unlike any other film I’ve seen. You can’t pass this one up.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Bill Sage, Billy Zane, Cassidy Gard, Cynthia Watros, John Patrick Amedori, Julia Garner, Liam Aiken, Rachel Pirard, Rory Culkin

Director: Rebecca Thomas

Rating: R

A first feature by stuntman-turned-director Andy Armstrong, Squealer is supposedly based on real events that shook Canada in the 1990s. Robert Pickton or the Pig Farmer Killer was perhaps the inspiration for the eponymous Squealer in the 2023 film; the physical resemblance is uncanny. Extraordinarily cruel serial killers make good gore material and we love to see it, but the problem is that the audience today wants something new and fresher. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic, but it's hard to make a film as misogynistic and hit the same charge as it used to. In Squealer, it is only female bodies that are shown dismembered, cut open, sliced, and diced; for men, all this happens off screen. This is only one example of how the film reiterates some of its onerous tropes, without really updating them. It's not exactly good taste to hammer bits of comedy in the dialogue too, as it feels  disconcerting amidst the rivers of blood and cruelty. 

 

Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Danielle Burgio, Graham Greene, Holly Kaplan, Katherine Moennig, Ramona DuBarry, Rebecca Knox, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Sydney Carvill, Theo Rossi, Tyrese Gibson, Wes Chatham

Director: Andy Armstrong

Rating: R

Sometimes, to get to know one’s self, one has to get out of their usual life. This is what makes the idea of travel so alluring, and Dhak Dhak is one such movie that portrays that idea, with some twists. Instead of a car, four women ride with motorcycles, and instead of flat plains, the leads go through one of the highest mountain passes in the world. That being said, we don’t really get to know the women beyond the common issues that women in India go through. The cast tries to make the best of it, and Sanjana Sanghi, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Ratna Pathak Shah portray their characters excellently, but instead of learning who they are, we mostly receive more product placement instead. It’s still a pleasant ride, though Dhak Dhak takes predictable and well-trodden routes in their approach.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Kallirroi Tziafeta, Nishank Verma, Poonam Gurung, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sanjana Sanghi

Director: Tarun Dudeja