Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review 198: "Planes (2013)"

From high above the world of Cars.
(And from the direct-to-DVD bin.)

The Why of Fly

      I have a theory as to why Pixar allowed Disney to make Planes, the Cars spin-off. Pixar does not want to make another Cars. But, they also don't want to lose the toys they can get from the Cars franchise, as well as they don't want Disney to make more Cars movie. So, here we have Planes, which will give Pixar all it's lovely toy money and they don't have to have critics directly hating them anymore. Still, it doesn't answer why it wasn't direct-to-DVD. Directed by Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure) and written by Jeffery M. Howard (Tinker Bell), the film follows Dusty (Dane Cook), a cropduster with dreams of competing in a race around the world. With the help of his friends Skipper (Stacy Keach), Chug (Brad Garrett), Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and Sparky (Danny Mann), he eventually is able to compete, where his faces off against professional racers, such as El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), Bulldog (John Cleese), Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith).

Remember when the movie was advertised
as a Top Gun rip-off?
Surprising No One

      Yeah, I don't think I need to tell you that Planes is not a very good movie. Now, there are a few good things I can say about it. A small few. I looks good. In fact, it's on Pixar level. Unfortunately that's Pixar level back in 2006 when the first Cars was released. It looks fine and can be visually impressive. But most of the time, the film look weak, especially when compared to recent Disney films. It also doesn't actually feel like a direct-to-DVD movie. It feels theatrical and while it is never epic, the film does have a fairly nice sense of scale. Plus, the acting is good. I normally hate Dane Cook, but here he's almost unrecognizable as Dusty, which is a good thing because the less Dane Cook I hear the better. But that's about where the luck for Planes runs out. It's a little thankfully that it's biggest problem is just how bland it is.

Race (In More Ways Than One)

      The film is more than just above the world of Cars. The film shares a lot more with it's predecessor than it lets on. The film features a stupid repair truck that acts as the best friend, a scene where the hero gives up the race to help a fallen competitor and basically a lot of the same character development as in Cars. On top of that, despite it's claims, it isn't actually an underdog story. Dusty is a very good racer. He suffers a few minor setbacks, but for the most part, he succeeds a lot more than he fails. Very early on he starts winning races and winning the hearts of fans and competitors. He's soon a front-runner and yet the film still says he is an underdog. The film also has problems with stereotyping. You thought Despicable Me 2 was bad, wait until you meet El Chupacabra. At first, I was interested to see what other locations in the Cars universe looked like. But each place is made up of only the basic stereotypes. I still can't decide if the scene where Rusty is told that Tractors in India are sacred because of reincarnation is clever or grossly misjudged. I feel that way about a lot of this movie.

This is not ticker-tape worthy.
The Verdict

      Planes might not be a terrible movie like I thought it would be, but it's still a pretty bad kids movie. In my theater, only the littlest kids were entertained and I think I know why. While the animation, acting and quality are all fine, the film suffers from a very dull story. Nothing new is presented here and it's not even presented all that well. The film blatantly rips-off Cars, the characters are grossly stereotypical and the main character is barely of interest. Even kids won't be fooled by how obvious a cash-grab this film is. Maybe this could be an Awfully Direct? Hmm... Planes (2013) gets 2 and a half stars out of 6. 

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