After the commercial success of Cars and Cars 2 it’s not surprising to see another instalment in the anthropomorphised vehicle Universe. With Planes the focus has switched from Radiator Springs to a Grand Prix race for aircraft and the production has switched from Pixar to Disney. What is less of a surprise is just how underwhelming and soulless this instalment in the burgeoning franchise is.
Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a young crop-dusting plane who dreams of being a racer. Despite being mocked Dusty enters the qualifying round of the Wings Around the World race and impresses and surprises everyone with his well-trained manoeuvring skills and manages to just get into the race. He finds himself being mentored by a retired Navy plane and begins a long-running rivalry with the reigning champion Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith).
Presented as a standard underdog story, Planes rarely extends itself to anything other than a colourful yet predictable story. It’s not that it’s badly made, or messily paced, but rather is a disappointingly workmanlike approach to film-making. There appears to be little to no thought given to making it standout and you get the impression that this is an exercise in accounting rather than creativity. The voice cast are fine, but in no way memorable and the fact that they’re neither famous voice-actors or big-named cameos also suggests that every effort has been made to achieve commercial success with minimal cost.
Cultural stereotypes form the basis of the other planes that Dusty comes in contract with during the great Grand Prix. With the stout British underdog, the arrogant American and the passionate and frankly randy Mexican chasing the French-accented Canadian planes tail. Quite what he thinks he’ll do if he catches her is a question only the film-makers can answer, but I suppose it’s a step in the right direction that an American film acknowledges other cultures and doesn’t just broadly paint them all as terrorists.
The story of clichÃ©d, the acting is passable and the conclusion is forgone. Planes isn’t the worst Disney film, but considering they’ve borrowed from Pixar, albeit weakest films, they seem to have learned nothing. Kids will like the bright colours and fart jokes, but when they’ve left the cinema it’ll all be forgotten in favour of watching Cars for the millionth time.