Lightning McQueen fans packing heat

“Cars 2” is coming out this summer, to the delight of very little boys everywhere.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, or with males under 3 feet tall, it’s a story about a shiny race car with a happy face who makes friends with a dirty truck with a happy face. Or something like that.

Anyway, it’s a happy little movie that features Lightning McQueen, the current gateway character to scarier stuff like, um, Superman and Scooby-Doo.

But this time, Pixar apparently decided it was a good idea to arm a few cars to the teeth and make them spies. And place the newly tricked-out toys at the entrance to every toy store and children’s book area in existence. So, these days, my 2-year-old can’t even go spend an afternoon peacefully flinging Thomas trains at other people’s kids without also developing a taste for smiling sportscars with hidden artillery. Nice.

The first movie’s charm — and its very lucrative staying power as a DVD — is that it’s a nice little film about friendship that’s perfect for very young boys who want to say and hear “Vroom, vroom!” a lot.

Now, they’ll be coveting those fancy missile launchers, too. Can’t we wait to arm them until they’re, say, 3? No self-respecting 4-year-old is openly that excited about the “Cars” sequel, what with all that smiling, and that Randy Newman song, and that conspicuous absence of Iron Man.

Pixar needs to come to its senses and realize its biggest fans for the franchise were, and will be, babies.

And most babies only use guns very sparingly. –Jillian O’Connor