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The world of Cars takes flight in Planes, Disney’s high-flying animated comedy revved up with action and adventure. Join Dusty, a crop duster with sky-high dreams and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take on the world’s fastest flyers in the greatest air race ever. Dusty has a huge heart but two big problems... he’s not exactly built for speed, plus he’s afraid of heights. His courage is put to the ultimate test as this unlikely hero aims higher than he ever imagined. With a little help from his friends, Dusty finds the courage to be more than he was built for and the inspiration to soar.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 113
- Fresh: 29
- Rotten: 84
- Average Rating: 4.6/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: "Planes" is for the most part content to imitate rather than innovate, presumably hoping to reap a respectable fraction of the box office numbers of "Cars" and "Cars 2," which together made hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rotten: It's engaging enough, driving home the familiar message of following one's dreams and the less hackneyed theme of facing one's fears. But it feels far too familiar
Rotten: As with "Cars," the world of "Planes" feels safe. A little too safe, perhaps.
Rotten: If "Planes" were a reasonably priced download, you'd gladly use it to sedate your kids during a long car ride. As a theatrical, 3-D release, however, "Planes" will sedate you, too.
WHAT'S NEXT? BOATS AND TRAINS?!
"Planes," the new 3D computer animated feature released by DisneyToon Studios, is described as being an underdog story that takes place above the world of "Cars," yet the actual movie doesn't contain any direct references or connections to that lucrative, successful Pixar franchise. More than anything, it's a low-quality spinoff that was initially intended to be a direct-to-video project, but has instead gone straight to theaters with the hope of making some quick box office money for the studio heads at Disney. Granted, the only reason I ended up seeing this film was because my younger cousins begged me to see it with them, and I relented. And while, admittedly, it wasn't as bad a as it could've been, this still ended up being nothing short of a dull Disney disappointment. The flick follows Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a scrappy small-town crop-dusting plane with big dreams - which include competing with the greatest high-flying aces in the entire world. Dusty, with guidance from his bosses/pals - a fuel truck named Chug (Brad Garrett) and a mechanic/fork lift known as Dottie (Teri Hatcher) - takes the first steps toward qualifying for a prestigious air-race all around the globe. He eventually seeks help from Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), a reclusive old aviator who's no longer capable of flight, but is still wise in all the ways of how to maneuver speedily through the air. But soon, Dusty discovers that he has another major obstacle to overcome if he wants to win the big race - to conquer his huge fear of great heights. Will this small plane have what it takes to come out on top? Then again, does the answer really even matter? Honestly, when it comes to movies like this, it's hard to expect anything beyond the already predictable. This is basically the same old "underdog hero" storyline we've seen many times before in other better flicks (the most prominent example being last month's "Turbo"). At least that film, despite its unoriginality, made some creative use of its characters. Here, the several anthropomorphic vehicles introduced to us throughout the movie's run time are given little to no personality, nor are they all that relevant to the overarching plot, and feel like they exist primarily to sell tons of "Planes"-affiliated toys and merchandise down the line. As it stands, many of them are cultural stereotypes realized as talking cartoon planes (John Cleese voices "the British one," Carlos Alazraqui voices "the Mexican one," etc.). Additionally, there's bland characters like Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) - the generic, arrogant champion antagonist - and the semi-love interest Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), whose nationality is her most memorable trait. This film is most engaging when it focuses on its high-flying race sequences that occur nearby various world landmarks and natural obstacles, and the added aspect of 3D helps to liven the action up. Nonetheless, "Planes" often suffers from some observably uneven editing in many scenes, not to mention it fails to truly impress from an animation standpoint, as it has neither the fluent, organic texture of Pixar's films or the light, cartoonish expressiveness of other studio features. As for the story, it's strictly formulaic (to say the very least), with little to no surprises to be found. Sure, there are some mindlessly inspirational messages for kids interwoven into the plot (follow your dreams, shinier and fancier doesn't mean better, etc.), but the film simply doesn't know what to do with them all, so it undercuts them with lots of throwaway lines. What little heart and substance "Planes" has comes from the relationship between Dusty and Skipper, which manages to give each character somewhat of a complete, if thin, arc. But at the end of the day, there's nothing stopping this from being passable direct-to-video animated entertainment for kids (aside from, perhaps, a few cool action sequences that are more cinematic in their style). Even so, this movie just doesn't deserve a theatrical release, when viewed as a whole. Of course, young kids (like my cousins, who enjoyed the flick) will be too distracted by all the bright colors and goofy voices to care about any actual flaws, but others may find it very difficult to ignore the feeling that this is just one huge cash grab for Disney. And seeing as how there'll be a sequel arriving in 2014, this certainly won't be the last we'll be hearing about "Planes."
Not Entirely Bad, But Not Good Either
To be fair, "Planes" was never intended to be anything more than a harmless distraction for young kids. And while "Planes" isn't the worst animated flick you're ever likely to see, it's just not a very good one. The animation is completely lackluster compared to Pixar, the characters are generic and entirely forgettable, and the "underdog" story is too predictable for words. Still, I actually found the movie slightly charming and funny at times, so I'd say that, at the very least, it's watchable. If you have very young kids, they'll enjoy this film. But for everyone else, it might just be best to stay away.
Don't Read the Reviews
It has become very easy to judge kid's movies on their ability to entertain adults with innuendo in a well marketed movie for "kids." Planes was the first movie I took my 4 year old to in the theaters and it was great. Nothing too scary (no nightmares), entertaining story line. Not quite as high caliber as Cars, but this movie is no slouch.