Knocked-off rehash of Cars feels brazenly opportunistic and mean-spirited
With this knocked-off aerial rehash of Pixar’s 2006 animated hit Cars, Disney Studios have found yet another way to rake in audience members’ cash without needing to trouble their own creative muscles, let alone reach far into their substantial pockets.
In a sleepy American nowhere town called Propwash Junction, Dusty the cropduster dreams of being a racing star, spending hours flying the skies cheered on by his clueless pal, oil tanker Chug. When an opportunity arises for Dusty to enter flying contest Wings Around the Globe, he enlists the training expertise of stern old Skipper, the decommissioned WW2 fighter jet who grumbles and gurns out his existence in a nearby hangar. Initially a laughing-stock, Dusty gradually earns the respect of his international opponents, bringing the final race down to a feud between Dusty and scheming racer jet Ripslinger.
It’s a standard plot, but the fact that it is so unembellished with anything like original thought points to what really grinds about Planes. Every element of the film feels rushed and done on a budget, from the voice-casting of charisma vacuums Dane Cook and Teri Hatcher, to the soundtrack of bland imitation songs that appropriate popular hits. Energetic flying scenes will keep kids entertained, but even at this level some of the content is poorly thought through; too much time is spent on jokes about male and female planes hooking up, while a flashback sequence involving a plane massacre feels out of place in an otherwise violence-free film.
This film was originally intended as a direct to dvd spin-off of Cars, and that is where it should have stayed. Planes has the depth and entertainment value of a 10-minute cartoon from one of the less edifying kids’ TV networks, and asking families to pay cinema admission prices for the dubious privilege of seeing it feels brazenly opportunistic and mean-spirited.