By Gary Murray
Starring the voice talents of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach and Brad Garrett
Written by Jeffery M. Howard
Directed by Klay Hall
Running time 92 min
MPAA Rating PG
Selig Film Rating Cable
It needs to be stated from the very start, Planes is not a Pixar Animation Studios film. It is made by DisneyToon Studios. Yes, it looks like Cars and has the slate of Cars at the very beginning but is not produced by the little company with the golden touch.
The story takes place in Prop Wing Junction and is of Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook). He is a crop dusting plane who dreams of flying high with the jets. The problem is that he is not designed for high speeds. His fork lift mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher) keeps reminding him that his goal is a pipe dream. He is encouraged with his dream by a fuel truck Chug (Brad Garrett).
Through a fluke, he qualifies for a giant race around the world. Now, Dusty knows that he needs some help. He befriends Skipper (Stacy Keach) a WWII military plane who does not fly anymore. He was a war hero with a mysterious past. Eventually Dusty wears down Skipper and the older plane befriends the young crop duster.
Most of the film is of the world wide race and the realization by Dusty that he is afraid of heights. He tries to win the race by going low and slow. The big racer is Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). He is a double prop plane and the obvious front runner. He will do anything to win, not caring if what he does is necessarily legal. The around race and Dusty finding out the truth behind others and the truth of himself is the basic plot points of Planes.
Some of the animations in Planes are stunningly brilliant. The look of the film is eye-catching, with sweeping vistas and a world-wide palate. The skill of 3D animation is getting closer and closer to perfection. The scenes of surf-breaking waves jump at the audience to the point that one expects to be drenched in salt water. The computer jockeys who created this world should be praised.
The major problem with the film is that it feels like a weak re-hash of Cars, the worst of the Pixar films. Yes, the film made a ton of cash but it is not a good movie. The only thing inferior to Cars was Cars 2. This film feels more like a blending of the worst element of both features.
The other problem is with the voice cast. Dane Cook is a comic, not a comic actor. His lack of skills behind the mike playing a character is evident. There is no heart with the reading. The other characters feel like pale imitations of Cars. Stacy Keach is no Paul Newman and Brad Garrett is not Larry the Cable Guy.
With the voice cast, only Carlos Alazriqui shines as El Chupacabra. The multi-cylinder lothario delivers the much needed belly laughs and is the only true comic relief. The scene where he woos a lady plane is the highlight of the entire work.
Planes was to be direct to video release and it probably should have stayed that way. For those who are expecting a Pixar style film, this will surely disappoint. But for the little kids, they will love to be back in this animated world.