After Disney’s recent return to greatness with such enjoyable films as Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled, it is no less than jarring how one of their latest movies is something as uninspired and laughable as Planes. It is only of small consolation that this isn’t part of the Disney Animated Canon, as it was made by Disney Toon Studios. Not that this excuses the film’s quality.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that we’ve had to suffer through two lackluster Cars movies, a spin-off short starring Mater, a series of even MORE spin-off shorts starring Mater and possibly one or two video games starring Mater, we now get another spin-off; one that takes us into the lives of the aircrafts that inhabit the Cars universe. In order for this to exist, there must exist an enthusiastic demographic that actually craves more films set in this formidably uninteresting Universe. Clearly we need to find and stop them. Now.
The film starts off with a title screen telling us it’s set “in the world of Cars“. Just in case things weren’t clear. An antropomorphic cropduster with a fear of heights (now that’s a phrase I thought I’d never have to type) named Dusty, voiced by Dane Cook, is unhappy with his chores of dusting the crops every day and dreams of instead becoming a great racer plane, so that he can put his skillful maneuvers to use. His supervisor Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) and forklift friend Dottie (Teri Hatcher) both keep telling him that this dream of his will never come true, but a dim-witted fuel truck voiced by Brad Garrett remains supportive. Am I supposed to praise the variety of vehicles they have talk to each other in the same manner I would otherwise praise an animated movie with characters of racial diversity, or should I just point out how ridiculous this all sounds when I describe it?
Dusty nevertheless decides to take part of a small race to get himself into the big Wings Across the World race, which doesn’t go as well as he’d hoped. That is until it’s revealed by Sinbad (the comedian; not the sailor) that one of the planes ahead of him was actually cheating, meaning Dusty came in 5th rather than 6th and, whoop-dee-doo, gets to continue racing. As his new life starts and obstacles face him, he befriends a very cranky, elderly war plane voiced by Stacey Keach, a crazy Mexican race-plane voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, a love interest voiced by Priyanka Chopra, a second love interest for the Mexican plane voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a German race-plane voiced by John Cleese. Other cast-members include Val Kilmer, John Ratzenberger and Roger Craig Smith as what I suppose is meant to be our villain. I don’t know; none of these characters interest me very much.
I don’t really know what such big names are doing playing such dull characters (although I bet the toyline will be something neat) in such a dull entry in Disney’s library. Again, it’s not part of their main Animated Canon, nor that of Pixar, but you’d think that they’d just give up on this fictional world at some point. Why not make a sequel to The Incredibles, the only Pixar film that actually warrants a decent follow-up? I don’t care about what other inhabitants of the Cars universe are up to, I don’t care what Mike and Sully were like in college, and I defintely don’t care whether or not they find Dory!
Planes is by itself not a horrible film. It’s just that its mere existence makes me so angry and disappointed at all these people who maintain their inexpicable obsession with this world that hasn’t even made for one truly great film yet. But Planes is still underwhelming in its uncaptivating characters, flat comedy and formulaic storyline. It is far worse than it needs to be in order to justify the creation of another movie in this franchise.
Will children enjoy this? Maybe they will, but this is the kind of movie you put on when you want to distract them because they don’t know any better than to watch anything that involves moving, colorful images on a rectangular screen. If you want to actually teach them something or show them something of important cultural value, might I instead suggest that you bring out your DVDs of Beauty and The Beast or Alice in Wonderland?
Oh, and just to crush everyone’s hopes once and for all, allow me to inform you that there’s already a sequel – yes, a frickin’ sequel – to Planes in the works. Okay, if the extent of these people’s imagination at this point is to do spin-offs of the movie Cars except with different modes of transportation each time and then milk pointless sequels to said spin-offs, I can’t imagine it’ll be very long before we get to see movies like Boats, Trains, Segways and Those Funny-Looking Moped-Things That Fat People Sit On While Yelling At Kids And Being Old. Honestly, with creativity like that, why don’t the folk at Disney just hire me already? I’m clearly apt. Sorry dear John Lasseter. I still have faith in you, but this really was mediocre.
There, that’s two reviews in one day. One for Riddick and one for Planes. Hopefully this makes up for my lack of reviews as of late.
Or screw the trailer, just watch this to get the basic idea of what Disney are doing right now: