The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Disney’s Cars spin-off “Planes” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Disney always seems to hit what they aim for. So in this case they were aiming for mediocre, right?
“Planes” is a Spin-off to the world of Pixar’s Cars focusing on the winged characters in that world. It follows the desires of a crop dusting plane who wants to be an international racer and what happens when he goes after that dream. It uses the voices of Dane Cook, Val Kilmer, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Terri Hatcher, John Cleese, and many others to round out this world above the world of Lightning and Mater. Planes was originally conceived to be a direct to DVD effort, which usually means a huge gap in investment and quality, but Disney decided to do a wide launch anyway. It’s a gamble that’s paid off for them before when they did the same thing with Toy Story 2. This movie, however, is not Toy Story 2.
Let’s start with the positive, shall we? The world of Planes is a decently realized world, there are a few clever jokes that play off of the aviation theme, and you really sense that they gave some thought to what a world like this would be like. There’s also a really great warmth to these characters that is pleasant and friendly and helps deliver the message about pursuing your dreams even when no one believes in you (A message I’m not sure I totally agree with, but you can watch my Turbo review for more on that, because they have the exact same plot structure.) But the best thing about the movie are the side kicks. Specifically John Cleese and Gabriel Iglesias are a wonderful additions as two of the international flyers, Ned and Bulldog, gathering most of the laughs with their perfect timing and delivery. It’s too bad that Dane Cook as our main hero, Dusty Crophopper, can’t find that same success, but instead just feels one step below.
In fact, the whole movie just feels one step below. I’d say that’s the worst thing, the quality drop off. Right from the beginning this movie just feels second rate. The CG feels less polished, the story feels less developed, the writing seems less sharp. Even the heart just seems to have a little less depth to it. and the result feels like a pleasant night letting a giant screen babysit your kids for a couple hours. In fact, at times I felt like this could have been an episode of Jay Jay the Jetplane. Anyone know Jay Jay? Kids show? PBS? :sings: JAY JAY The JET Plane, THAT”S ME! no one? ok well, point being this movie would have felt completely at home as a saturday morning cartoon, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Honestly, Planes is a disappointment, Even though the Cars movies weren’t my favorite I still thought they were aiming for excellence, and this one seems like they were aiming for, “just good enough”… and they hit it. Planes flys right down the middle with a C.
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