From above the world of “Cars,” is a story about a crop duster who has his sights high on the skies in Disney’s latest animated adventure, “Planes.”
Dusty Crophopper, voice of Dane Cook (“My Best Friend’s Girl”), has spent his entire life on the farm doing what he is made to do: fly a few feet over a farm, back and forth, dusting crops, day-in and day-out over and over again, but in his spare time, he and his buddy Chug, voice of Brad Garrett (“The Pacifier”) work on fulfilling Dusty’s dream.
Dusty is a big fan of a sporting event called “Wings Around the World,” an international air race around the globe where the best racing planes from every major country compete.
After weeks of training with Chug, Dusty drums up the courage to qualify for the big race and against all odds he manages to qualify for the race but just because he manages to qualify doesn’t mean he is ready to race against professional racing planes, especially the three time reigning champion Ripslinger, voice of Roger Craig Smith (“Wreck-it Ralph”).
If Dusty wants to stand a fighting chance in staying in the race against veteran racers and get over his fear of heights, he’s going to need some help; enter retired Navy fighter jet Skipper, voice of Stacey Keach (“The Bourne Legacy,” “W.”), whose advice and experience could help Dusty stand on an even level with the other racers.
Now that Dusty is qualified and coached up, he proceeds to the starting line of the “Wings Around the World” competition alongside reigning champ Ripslinger, British circuit champion Bulldog, voice of John Cleese (“Rat Race,” “Die Another Day”), Mexican Indoor veteran El Chupacabra, voice of Carlos Alazraqui (“Happy Feet 2”), Indian circuit veteran Ishani, voice of Priyanka Chopra and Canadian circuit veteran Rochelle, voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“A Bug’s Life”). As the first crop duster to compete in the race, he is immediately the underdog story to follow.
Every leg of the race is more treacherous than the last, testing Dusty’s mettle but with friends in the race and back home on the farm, Dusty starts to realize that maybe, just maybe, he can do more than just compete. If he can fly straight and to his strengths, he could actually be the first crop duster to win an international flying race.
Though “Planes” has the look and appeal of a high-flying underdog story, it is a tad cliche’ and unoriginal to actually invest in. Fans of “Cars” and children will be drawn in from a familiarity standpoint but in all there is just no magic in this feature to savor.
Director Klay Hall’s first major project had the altitude and the vectors to pilot this movie but sadly there was no thrust, no power to take this movie and liftoff. Jeffery M. Howard’s screenplay lacked any type of liberty one can experience while flying and the characters just felt so hollow, the audience can’t make any type of connection with them.
The character voices fit these characters decently enough but there is nothing they provide that actually redeems this movie.
The animation isn’t anything that hasn’t been seen before as well and that really makes the movie disappointing because Disney has a reputation of producing quality animated features. Maybe they do need Pixar to achieve that quality but in the end, “Planes” stalls more than it flies.
“Planes” will moderately entertain children and can appeal to the fans of “Cars” but it isn’t anything special. It falls into the same theme of underdog features that other animated films have, but lacks originality to really stand out from the crowd.