Welcome to the world above the cash-cow that is the World of ‘Cars’ brand known as ‘Planes’. Originally set to hit the home market in fall of this year, Disney decided to have the DisneyToon Studios produced film hit the big screen to deliver a new franchise. Unfortunately for Disney, ‘Planes’ has a tough time getting perfect takeoff.
‘Planes’ focuses on a cropduster named Dusty Crophopper, voiced by comedian Dane Cook, as he dreams of being in the international Wings Across The World race. When the opportunity finally comes for him to qualify to enter, Dusty takes it under the advice of his mentor Skipper Riley, voiced by Stacy Keach, and heads off to race against other planes such as the British racer Bulldog, voiced by John Cleese, the Mexican luchador racer El Chubacabra, voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, arch rival Ripslinger, voiced by Roger Craig Smith, and Indian racer and potential love interest Ishani, voiced Priyanka Chopra. The only question remains is if Dusty can get over his fear of being high in the sky and overcome the various environmental obstacles to win the race.
The premise is the basic template of the underdog story audiences have seen over and over again and does nothing to improve upon it. It is textbook generic and can be underwhelming for anyone viewing it as they can see certain notes of the film come from miles away. The jokes and comic elements are very hit and miss and will only appeal to those younger viewers as there is nothing for the adult audiences to truly enjoy unlike this year’s ‘Despicable Me 2.’ The performances are decent with Dane Cook doing his best to make us believe he is just a small town boy with big dreams. Stacy Keach, on the other hand, delivers a great performance and makes the background of his character enthralling and rich.
Visually, the film is quite impressive. It is nowhere near Pixar or Dreamworks quality, but the fact it is done by a minor studio on Disney radar responsible for Direct-to-Video features like the ‘Tinkerbell’ series is a triumph. the flying scenes during the race are handled well with lush backgrounds and high flying POV shots from the planes, adding another layer of depth and feel to the experience. Yet, such as with the earlier feature from this year ‘Epic’, visuals cannot make up for the blandness in this feature.
‘Planes’ tries to fly high in the sky to appeal to the built in audiences of ‘Cars’, but cannot quite make its landing. ‘Planes’ is rated for some mild action and rude humor.