Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric The Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad,
Running Time: 88 minutes
It’s very easy to ridicule PLANES as the CARS rip-off that many people expected before it was even released. Much of that ridicule could be easily justified as this truly is a simple money grab. Based in the universe of CARS, this sees a bunch of anthropomorphic planes take centre stage in a world disturbingly absent of people. It’s important to note that this is Disney’s PLANES and Pixar had very little to do with it. Despite that rather damning evidence though, PLANES is, in my opinion, better than CARS and certainly superior to CARS 2 which I still hold as one of the worst films of all time for multiple reasons.
The story is has been regurgitated many times, but for the young audience at which the film is aimed at it’s a perfect mix of obvious sentimentality and feel-good frolics. We have a suitable underdog in the form of Dusty (Cook), a cropdusting plane who wishes to become something more. He wants to take part in an international race, only he’s also afraid of heights. This big fish in a small pond mixed with overcoming an Achilles’ heel, leads to twice the excitement and even grabbed my attention at times. Dusty is perfectly likable, and the film does well to detail one of his earlier failures. His journey is also rather well constructed, putting up against a colourful series of doubters and antagonists, many of whom become his friends over time.
The animation is never spectacular, even when taking to the skies. The lack of detail just reminds that this was once meant as a direct to DVD feature. Still, the race segments can be very fast and frantic which will be more than enough for a younger audience. The humour is very hit and miss, at times supplying grown worthy puns of such simplicity they are actually painful, but also giving a number of quick one-liners and witty retorts. In contrast, all the inspirational mumbo-jumbo will be sickly to anyone over a certain age, but it’s still delivered with good intentions and should be celebrated for doing so.
The cast is filled with talented and memorable individuals who each add life to their characters, although there is a sense that some of the stars are phoning in their performances. PLANES is a cash-grab but at least it isn’t a completely heartless one. Making sure it sets a good example for its audience, those that are too cynical will find nothing but contempt for this spin-off. It doesn’t attempt anything new, and that is a bit of a shame when it starts to do things so right at times.