2006 was the year that Disney/Pixar decided to bring out a new type of computer animated film. Instead of having talking animals or talking toys, they decided to add talking automobiles to the mix. The film Cars was a big hit that year and it showed that even characters without any arms or legs could give first-rate performances. The story was basic but also quite poignant: A somewhat self-centered race-car ends up in a middle of a nowhere town where he finds out what life is truly all about. To piggyback on the success of that film, in 2011 Disney/Pixar decided to create a sequel entitled Cars 2; a mediocre follow-up that doesn’t seem to add anything new or interesting. Flash forward to 2013 and Disney/Pixar have decided to bring the Cars universe up into the skies with their new release entitled Planes. This is the first theater released film directed by Klay Hall who is mostly known for directing the television animated series King of the Hill.
The plot of Planes is simple and straight-forward and is borrowed from countless other films that have come before it. Dane Cook voices Dusty Crophopper, a crop-dusting plane that has aspirations of competing in a world-renowned aerial race. The problem however is that not only is he not built for speed but he is also scared of heights. So now Rusty and his ragtag group of airfield vehicles must try to whip him into shape in order to compete.
All I can say is that this film feels so much like a Disney cash grab that it almost offends me. Not only are all of the characters and story incredibly boring and unoriginal, but the actual computer animation looks worse than Cars which came out seven years prior! This should have been a straight to video release and I can just imagine that Disney decided to put this in theaters as a last minute decision. The absence of any sense of tension or character motivation makes the entire script feel phoned in. Even with well-known actors like Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus lending their voices to characters in the film, the lines that they are given feel like children could have written them. Planes tries to be fun and engaging but what we end up with is lifeless, soulless caricatures of typical stereotypes of characters that have been seen time and time again. The plot is so routine and devoid of any charm that every single hurdle that characters must face can be seen from a mile away. With a budget about a third of the cost of the original Cars film, the lack of polish and care given to the entirety of the film can be seen in every single aspect of the film’s presentation.
If anyone is going to enjoy Planes it has to be kids. As an adult, the pleasure of seeing talking vehicles onscreen is only enjoyable if the story and performances are able to back up the visuals. For kids however, they just care that it looks cool and that the characters sound funny. Overall, I was bored with Planes and I continued to lose interest with every minute that passed by. On a happier note, this summer has given both children and adults much better kid’s films like Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University but Planes on the other hand is a film that needs to fly far, far away.
FINAL TAKE: 2/11
Find Brian (Turbo) on Facebook.com/turbizl or Twitter @turbizl
About the Movie
Synopsis: A crop-dusting plane has aspirations to win a world-renowned aerial race.
Director: Klay Hall
Actors: Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese
Run time: 92 min