A Disney Toons spin-off of Pixar’s Cars franchise, Planes was originally intended to be a direct to DVD effort – instead, it’s trying to capitalize on the end of the Summer film season and catch all the kids before they head back to school. If they’re smart, an influx of Planes backpacks, lunch boxes, and notebooks are sure to be hitting the shelves right about now. It’s all about the merchandising.
Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a cropduster from an equally dusty little town. He has big dreams though and he’s out to prove he’s really meant to be a racer – fear of heights notwithstanding. With the help of Dottie the forklift (Teri Hatcher), Chug the fuel truck (Brad Garrett), and Skipper the old grounded war plane (Stacy Keach), Dusty prepares to try out for the big ’round the world race. Against all odds, *spoiler alert* Dusty makes it in, and he’s suddenly in the big leagues. Also featuring the voices of Priyanka Chopra, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gabriel Iglesias, John Cleese, Val Kilmer, Brent Musburger, and Sinbad.
The plot (if you can call it that) is stolen from Cars with the young racer learning valuable lessons – both racing and life – from the old guy from the small town and set in the world of global racing from Cars 2. It has, however, none of the character development of the first or imagination or thrills of the second. It’s no secret that the two Cars films are Pixar’s weakest and Planes is those two films, minus the main things that made them watchable. Coupled with the fact that the animation is something you’d expect to see from a Saturday morning cartoon or bargain DVD – no gorgeous Pixar renderings here – and you’re left with very little at all.
John Lasseter may have been involved, the art style may look the same, and John Ratzenberger may even have a cameo, but this is no Pixar film. There is is, more or less, a positive message of facing fears, honesty, sportsmanship, etc. throughout, but the positive is cancelled out by ethnically stereotyped characters that border on racist, awkward moments of mechanical romance, and 100% predictable non-surprises from beginning to end. This is a stinker best ignored by all but the most easily entertained young children, who would probably be just as content to watch their parents bounce a ball on their head for a few minutes rather than shell out for 3D tickets. (The 3D isn’t even that great, despite computer animated films being especially suited to the format).
There are apparently two sequels already planned for this spinoff. Here’s to hoping parents see through Disney’s charade and steer clear before that happens.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It is what it is – a cheap Pixar knock-off.”
My Rating – Two out of Five Hats
Planes flies into 3,702 theaters, August 9, in 2D and 3D