Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) is a cropdusting plane who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race. But he is hopelessly afraid of heights. With the support of his mentor Skipper (Stacy Keach) and a host of new friends - but with hurdles thrown his way by enemies - Dusty sets off to make his dreams come true.
Review by Louise Keller:
Reach for the stars is the theme of this Disney 3D animation and while it's cute in part, it lacks the throttle of Pixar's Cars franchise. While Cars brought well established characterisations and recognisable voices to their likeable and personality punctuated four-wheeled characters, Jeffrey M. Howard has written a derivative-filled screenplay and a straight forward, predictable plot. Not that there is anything wrong with that but somehow, the film never takes flight. Reinforcing friendship, loyalty, courage and doing more than we are built for are positive messages and youngsters will certainly enjoy the ride - through snowstorms, oceans, mountains and deserts - as the little underdog crop duster plane pushes the boundaries to compete against the practiced big boys of the sky in the around the world marathon. Parents however, may be itching for more.
In the opening sequences, we learn that Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is not content just spraying the crops and practises his dare-devil speed-related escapades in secret. It is not until he is being trained by Skip (Stacy Keach), an army hero plane with a backstory, that we learn he is scared of heights. But before we know it, Dusty is at the starting line of the high profile race, ready to compete and fly through Iceland, Bavaria, the Himalayas, China and Mexico. So begin the adventures.
The scene in which Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) helps his friend El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) serenade the Aussie plane with the roo on its wing is one of the cutest, when the uptempo beat is taken low and slow. And there are some lovely visuals soaring through the clouds and in a romantic moment Dusty takes a detour with the seductive Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), whose propellers he admires, to the Taj Mahal.
The voice cast is excellent and there are a few nice ideas, but it's all pretty routine and I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed overall.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Using the old Cars template, Planes is a zero to hero story in which human characteristics are welded - instead of cars - to small planes, who are set to compete in a Big Race. Neither the story nor the characters are original, and the animation style was rehearsed in Cars and Cars 2. Still, it is the animation and its inventiveness, energy and brilliance that gives the film some altitude.
The 3D is effective in adding a rush to the many scenes of the flying race, where we get a sense of being in a flight simulator. These are the film's most exciting elements.
The world of Planes is populated by cars; crowds at the race start and finish are mostly cars, with a smattering of small planes and the ubiquitous mini-fork-lifts that take the supporting roles. This world has the SS Flysenhower aircraft carrier, for example, and several other theme-relevant jokes. But the sense of deju vu permeates and there is a lack of real character in the characters, and perhaps too many of them. The various nationalities of the competitors are overworked and obvious (eg Bulldog is the British plane voiced by John Cleese).
Still, among the heavy handedness there are fun scenes, some laughs and a modicum of tension in the third act as the finish line approaches, but the high voltage fun and character studies are too weak to hold our interest.
The schmaltzy resolution may work for the undemanding, but given how much fabulous work has gone into the film, it's a shame the result isn't a more complete success.
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VOICES: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric The Entertainer, Val Kilmer, Carlos Alazraqui, Sinbad
PRODUCER: Traci Balthazor
DIRECTOR: Klay Hall
SCRIPT: Jeffrey M. Howard, John Lasseter
EDITOR: Jeremy Milton
MUSIC: Mark Mancina
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ryan L. Carson
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 19, 2013