Planes (2013)

Film: Planes
Release: 2013, theatrical
Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Carlos Alazraqui
Directed by: Klay Hall
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: When a crop dusting plane qualifies for a round the world racing championship on a technicality, he does anything in his power to prove that you can do more than what you were built for

Hans' thoughts:

The Cars movies turned out to be one of Pixar's greatest commercial successes. The tale of the up and comer learning to remember the simple pleasures is cute enough, but basing it around talking cars proved once again how much little boys love cars. So why not try the same thing, but with Planes? I'm sure this isn't far off of the actual pitch that were done to make this movie happen - how they worked in the "Not actually animated by Pixar" and still got greenlit is anyones guess, though I suspect whoever Disney executive were in charge expected to make back the revenue on toy sales anyway. Okay, I cannot really be more frank than this: This film, though entertaining, is a very obvious marketing ploy by Disney to sell some toys. Just as was the case with the G.I. Joe cartoon or Transformers cartoon of the 80's, the film pretty much amounts to a very well-made toy commercial. The movie takes place in the same universe as the Cars movies, meaning all vehicles talk and have faces. If you can't look past this and watch the movie then you will not get any enjoyment out of the experience whatsoever. Let's get on with it.

That's about where the connection to the original two movies stops, this isn't a sequel to the Cars movies and our main character Dusty Crophopper is a bit different from Lightening McQueen. While yes, Planes is a racing movie just like Cars was but I'd argue this movie is actually more about racing than Cars. Dusty is a young crophopper who's tired of his lot in life, for years both him and his best friend the fuel truck Chug have been fans of the annual "Wings Across The World" race. Despite being warned that his engine wouldn't be able to handle the strain of going through such a thing, Dusty competes for the qualifications and just barely makes the cut on a technicality. To have a better chance of winning, he seeks out reluctant help in an old WWII fighter who used to train planes in the army. At this point in the movie it seems very reminiscent of Cars once again, but as I said the "arc" that McQueen and his trainer went through in their movie is barely, if at all present this time around. Dusty isn't an accomplished airplane not wanting to take advice from others and Skipper really isn't an embittered fallen star who's become disillusioned with the world. Instead we don't spend all that much time on the ground, focusing instead on making the movie about the actual race. 

The film has some funny moments, but they mostly based in "pun" territory. As an adult, I question how much you will actually do more than snicker at it but I expect kids to love it. Jokes like "Does a Giga bite?" "Not if you pet it nicely" are what we're dealing with, basically. At least we have some genuinely fun characters to go on the adventure with, I'm especially fond of the Mexican racing plane El Chupacabra, who becomes completely infatuated with one of the other contestants. To be honest, this subplot turns out to be very cute and actually written a little better than the main story. Thankfully our main character has a love interest, but it doesn't take the focus at any point in the film. While they do share a scene or two together, focus is thankfully kept on winning the race. Our main villain is not all that well written however, he's your typical "rest on his laurels" type character that becomes unnecessarily cruel to the others in a desperate attempt to win the race. I fully expected him to menacingly twirl a mustache and tie an innocent girl to some train tracks.

While not the most advanced childrens cartoon out there, some good animation, beautiful visuals and fun little characters keeps the idle viewer entertained and at the very least chuckling for the duration. It is not art or even un part with most Pixar movies. Disney has made better 3D animated films themselves before this movie and hopefully they will continue doing so in the future as well. Until then, there's a fun little movie without much consequence out there making the rounds. Trust me, there exists far worse animated films out there, if that's any sort of consolation.
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