14 July 2014


Cars was not a great film.  Cars 2 was even worse.  Only because I am a glutton for punishment and my two-year-old loves all types of transportation, I rented Planes from the local library.  The trailer was nothing special.  The box office run was sufficient enough to spawn a sequel the following year, coming out this Friday.  The voice cast is led by Dane “My TV Show Got Cancelled Before It Aired an Episode” Cook.  This was a direct-to-video film that Disney decided to give a small theatrical push.  Remember, Toy Story 2 was supposed to go direct-to-video as well.  Things were not looking good for this 90 minute flick, but I hit PLAY anyway.

Planes opens with Dusty (Cook) daydreaming of racing against to Navy Fighter planes, and winning.  Why is this sequence a daydream?  He is a crop duster plane.  He dreams of being a racing plane, and his good buddy Chug (Brad Garrett), a fuel truck, tries to help Dusty achieve his dream.   Dusty tries to appeal the competitive spirit of an old WWII Corsair named Skipper (Stacy Keach), but is denied.  Dottie (Teri Hatcher), the local mechanic at the airport, thinks that racing is a bad idea for Dusty, as he is not designed for it.

Nothing will deter the crop duster, and Dusty goes to the local time trials.  After a stupendous lap, he places sixth, otherwise known as the first loser.  Saddened he goes home.  Later, the fifth place qualifier is disqualified for performance enhancing drugs, and Dusty is allowed to compete.  Now, Skipper decides to help.  After a training montage, Dusty arrives in NYC to start the Seven Leg race around the world.

Yes, most of the characters are transplants from Cars.  Chug = Mater.  Skipper = Doc.  Dottie = Sally.  Yes, the story is similar.  But, what Planes did better than Cars is streamlined the story.  It is almost a full half-hour shorter.  A lot of reviews I read just complained about it being bland, unoriginal, and a rip-off.  To that, I agree.  I can explain it, but I really enjoyed Planes. 

The voice cast is another shining aspect.  Other than the ones I already mentioned and John Cleese, the rest of relative nobodies that really excelled when given the chance.  The main villain, Ripslinger is voiced by Roger Craig Smith.  He is an accomplished voice actor, but no one knows him.  Another competitor, El Chupacabre is voiced by Carlos Alazraqui.  Again, a veteran voice actor with no mainstream appeal.  Maybe, paying all that money to big name actors to voice every role, some money can be saved, and the quality can be heightened with a slightly lesser known cast.  Just a thought.

I have since rented it again, and decided to go ahead and buy it.  There is just something in the story and the characters I love.  The score by Mark Mancina is great.  The original songs are fun.  I truly believe that the song “Nothing Can Stop Me Now” was missed by the Academy.

Is Planes on the same plane as Toy Story 2?  Hell no!  It is still better than Cars, Cars 2, Brave, and I will say it, Wall-E.  I am excited for this weekend’s sequel, Planes: Fire and Rescue.  My only concern is that Dusty seems like now he wants to fight forest fires.  Maybe Dusty should just stick to crop dusting or racing.  Still, the movie looks entertaining.

RATING: 7/10

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