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Movie Review: Planes

August 9, 2013

Planes PosterPlanes – A Walt Disney Studios Release

http://www.disney.com/planes/

Release Date: August 9th, 2013

Rated G for mild action and rude humour

Running time: 92 minutes

Klay Hall (dir.)

Jeffrey M. Howard (screenplay)

Mark Mancina (music)

Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper (voice)

Stacy Keach as Skipper (voice)

Brad Garrett as Chug (voice)

Teri Hatcher as Dottie (voice)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Rochelle (voice)

Priyanka Chopra as Ishani (voice)

John Cleese as Bulldog (voice)

Cedric the Entertainer as Leadbottom (voice)

Carlos Alazraqui as El Chupacabra (voice)

Roger Craig Smith as Ripslinger (voice)

Anthony Edwards as Echo (voice)

Val Kilmer as Bravo (voice)

Planes

©Walt Disney Studios.  All Rights Reserved.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) dreams of racing in Planes.

Our reviews below:

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Planes Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

There isn’t all that much to be said about Planes, a thoroughly middle of the road DisneyToon Studios production that exists to cash in on the popularity of Pixar’s superior Cars franchise while entertaining younger kids in the process.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) spends his days spraying organic fertilizer over a cornfield, as he dreams of flying in an upcoming around the world race.  But with coaching from the war veteran Skipper (Stacy Keach) and the support of his truck friends Chug (Brad Garrett) and Dottie (Teri Hatcher), his seemingly impossible dreams come true and he finds himself flying with the big leagues.  But Dusty faces some tough competition from Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), the South Asian Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), the Mexican El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), the British Bulldog (John Cleese) and the French Canadian Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), leading up to the expected conclusion.

This is pretty much all there is to the story, a predictable affair anchored by a screenplay full of mostly expository dialogue and peppered with some lame jokes.  The 92 minute running time sometimes feels like longer than was needed to tell the safely simplistic story and the pacing of the film makes it easy to tell why this was originally intended as a straight to video release, so you won’t really miss much if you wait for the home market.  Aside from a few moments of amusement, there isn’t much in Planes that will excite anyone above a certain age, but this is a kids film in every sense of the word and I’m sure I would have been entertained back when I was young.

Adults who come looking for the crossover appeal of better animated films will likely leave the theatre feeling somewhat letdown, but this is a perfectly adequate experience for young audiences and many kids will be kept glued to the screen.  The animation is pretty good and the flying sequences are fairly well done, even though the 3D presentation feels surprisingly superfluous.  Although Teri Hatcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus admittedly overdo it in their respective roles, the voice cast is led by a fairly involved vocal performance from standup comic Dane Cook as the charmingly simple main character that helps move the story forward.

The characters are all gently appealing as versions of the toys that already exist on store shelves, and the cute anthropomorphic planes are the main reason why kids are going to be excited for the film.  Although Planes is easily the least sophisticated of this year’s animated releases, especially when compared to Pixar’s outstanding Monsters University, this is a completely innocuous film that will harmlessly keep young audiences entertained.  But you can safely wait for the small screen.

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Planes Review by Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

In Planes, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a crop-duster plane who dreams of being a racer and competing in the Wings Around the World Race.  Despite the fact that he isn’t built like the other racing planes and that he has never flown anywhere other than fields in his life (not to mention over 1000 feet) Dusty perseveres with the help of his fuel truck friend Chug (Brad Garrett) and a local retired fighter plane named Skipper (Stacy Keach).  And so in a predictable underdog story he goes up against the best racers from around the world to compete in a race similar to the Tour de France.

The whole film is quite predictable and the dialogue is often of the on the nose variety (the opening lines of the film completely tell you the style you will be in for at times).  The animation, while cute and well-enough done, is not at the same caliber as anything Pixar would have done.  But this is not a Pixar film.

Based on the world of Cars originally created by Pixar, DisneyToon Studios made and released Planes.  The film was originally going to go straight-to-DVD, but was instead given a theatrical release.  While the Cars films (and in particular the first one, although I liked them both) provided a well-thought out world, good story, and characters with depth, Planes is clearly marketed straight to the 3-8 crowd.  Those who are older and have an interest in animation or planes may wish to check it out as well, but with its simplistic storyline and characters the target audience is clear.

Planes is not groundbreaking and I don’t think was ever meant to be.  For what it is, its audience will enjoy it and I guess that’s the best thing to be said in this case.  It’s definitely not the worst thing out there and it provides mild amusement at times.  Just a note though, if you can find a 2D show, skip the 3D.  It really adds absolutely nothing, which is a shame because the potential to utilize it better for the flight scenes was really missed.

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Planes Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Set in Pixar’s Cars world, Planes follows the life of vehicles in the sky.  Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a friendly crop duster, has always wished to fly in the Wings Around the World race.  Dusty’s mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher) doesn’t think racing is safe for a crop duster.  However, he is determined to race, even calling himself “Strut Jetstream.”  He receives advice from Skipper (Stacy Keach), an old war veteran plane who can’t seem to fly anymore.

Once Dusty gets to the race, he makes lots of new friends, including Mexican plane El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), French Canadian plane Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Indian plane Ishani (Priyanka Chopra).  Planes is definitely for a young audience.  While one flashback war scene with Skipper frightened and upset one child in the theatre, the rest of the movie is friendly and tame.  Dusty is even environmentally friendly; the only “dust” in his crop dusting tank is non-toxic and organic fertilizer, a detail that I appreciated.

While Planes seems like a copy of the far superior Cars franchise, this is still a pleasant film, with nothing objectionable in it.  The airplanes and other vehicles are incredibly cute.  While the animation isn’t quite as sharp as Pixar or Disney studio animation, the film is still nice to look at.  One scene, where Dusty and Ishani are flying over India is particularly beautiful.

Planes is a fun movie that is sure to have a fan base.  And airplane enthusiasts can check out IMDb’s trivia page, which explains what real airplane each character is based on.

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Planes Review by Maureen

** (out of 4)

If you or your little one has a special fascination with airplanes, then DisneyToon Studios animated feature Planes will be right up your runway.  It should be noted that this is not a Pixar production, even though it’s a follow up of sorts to the world of Cars and Cars 2, and all the vehicles both air and land have facial features and speak just like in the Cars world.  While Planes is appealing in a cute sort of way, the quality is not Pixar level.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a hardworking crop dusting plane whose dream is to race against other planes in the “Wings Around the World” race.  His trusty mechanic, a little car named Dottie (Teri Hatcher) thinks the idea is nonsense since Dusty was never built for racing.  His truck friend, Chug (Brad Garrett) is encouraging and thinks why not?  It’s an old retired airforce plane, Skipper (Stacy Keach) who ends up being Dusty’s inspiration and biggest supporter.

The big race goes from New York to Iceland to Germany to India to China to Mexico and finally back to New York.  Through his journey, Dusty learns about following dreams, facing fears and never giving up.  The cast of characters he races against include Mexican plane El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), British plane Bulldog (John Cleese), French Canadian plane Rochelle (Priyanka Chopra) and the frontrunner, American plane Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith).

This can be best described as a predictable and safe animated film for kids.  If they enjoy the look of Cars and talking vehicles in general, then they’ll also like Planes.  For grown up viewers, the film can be mildly amusing, especially if you get some of the Top Gun references and play “spot the blatant similarities to the Cars movies.”  At least that’s what kept me watching the film.

Watching Planes in an auditorium with plenty of really young kids, it was obvious many of them found sitting still for 92 minutes too long.  At least at home with a DVD they can get up and move around or watch it in segments.  As for children older than five, Planes is engaging enough especially if they enjoy a world filled with airplanes, trucks and cars.

Planes is fun to see on the big screen, though it will probably find more of an audience once it’s released on DVD.  But families might want to save a few dollars and skip the unnecessary 3D.  Use the extra money for more popcorn.

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Planes Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Before anything else, I must disclose that unlike some critics I thought the original Cars was brilliant and even liked Cars 2, which most critics dismissed as little more than a marketing tool for toys. Planes, despite being advertised as “coming from above the world of Cars” is neither a Pixar film nor even a regular Disney film but rather comes from DisneyToon studios that normally caters to the direct to home market, with production largely outsourced to India’s Prana Animation Studios. As a result, it lacks the polish of a feature from the parent studios, particularly in 3D which doesn’t add much while darkening it somewhat. Despite its limitations, Planes is surprisingly not bad, but I would recommend waiting for the home release.

The story follows the familiar theme of success of a decent underdog, whose sportsmanship is ultimately rewarded. Dusty (Dane Cook) is a crop dusting plane who dreams of racing as he sprays fields with the heavier plane Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer), both supported by the fuel truck Chug (Brad Garrett) and mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher), a vehicle like Guido from Cars. Despite being mocked by rivals as a hick, he manages to get a place on the around the world air race, coached by war veteran Skipper (Stacy Keach).

The plane to beat is three time winner Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) who with his toadies Ned and Zed (Gabriel Iglesias) will stop at nothing to win. Other planes include the Mexican El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) who has a crush on the shapely Québecoise Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the flirtatious Indian Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) and the stiff upper lip English Bulldog (John Cleese).

Planes will appeal especially to children, while adults won’t mind the sweet but clunky script. There are lots of good aerial sequences and some suspense before the predictable outcome is reached. The voice cast is mostly good, including cameos from Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer (from Top Gun) in the opening sequence and later John Ratzenberger, as well as the uncredited voice of JFK airport doing an impression of its namesake.

The one disappointment is Rochelle, whose fake accent is even worse than Bill Hader’s from Turbo. It’s too bad they didn’t use the voice of Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette, who gets top billing for this role in the Québec version of the film. But the score by Mark Mancina is a good fit for the action on screen.

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Consensus: Although this DisneyToon Studios spinoff of Cars lacks the sophistication of a Pixar production, the characters in Planes are cute and younger audiences are sure to be entertained by the harmless experience.  **1/4 (Out of 4)

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