8/15/2013 - A crop duster with spirit competes in an international air race in Planes, a movie that would have been just fine as a direct-to-DVD addition to some deluxe Cars 2 package.
(And, according to Wikipedia, direct-to-DVD was the original plan for this movie.)
Dusty Crophopper (voice of Dane Cook) is just a small-town airplane but he has big dreams: he wants to zoom around the globe with the fastest planes out there in big races covered by sportscasters like Brent Mustangburger (Brent Musburger reprising his Cars 2 cameo). He places one short of qualifying for the Wings Across the World race but then a disqualification opens up a slot for him. In need of help competing with the more seasoned racers, Dusty turns to Skipper (Stacy Keach), a World War II navy plane who reluctantly decides to train him. Dusty will have to fight smart, not just fast, to beat the likes of Ripslinger (Robert Craig Smith), the stuck-up reigning champ, or even friendlier competitors like El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), Bulldog (John Cleese) and girl-plane Ishani (Priyanka Chopra).
The joyless and relatively charm-free Cars 2 looks like the final scenes of Toy Story 3 compared to the empty shell that is Planes. It is, in many ways, a remix of the first Cars. Instead of a Paul Newman-voiced old-timer teaching a skilled, brash youngster to have heart, a Stacy Keach-voiced old-timer is helping a heart-having youngster to build his skills and have confidence while a small-town band of buddies cheers them on. Yes, there are some cute moments — in particular, a Top Guns voice cameo — but there is also what feels like an endless amount of talking. Dreamworks’ recent Turbo (about a snail who wants to race in the Indy 500) covered similar territory and felt more joyful and silly. Here, there’s just too much chatter — about believing in yourself, about doing the right thing, about the morality and reasons behind two minor betrayals of Dusty’s friendship — and not enough goofiness.
Slice this down to 30 minutes and you have yourself a cute extra for a Cars special-edition DVD. As is, the movie feels like an OK idea lazily executed. C
Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. Directed by Klay Hall with a screenplay by Jeffrey M. Howard, Planes is an hour and 32 minutes long and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.