Despite how it may look, Disney’s Planes is not a Pixar film. Despite being in the same world as Cars, and having very similar character designs, and having John Lasseter as an executive producer, Pixar had little to do with it.
The plot is pretty standard fare: the spunky protagonist, Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook), is a crop duster who dreams of making it big as an aerial racer. He is constantly told, however, that he can only be what he was born to be, and that he shouldn’t waste his time trying to be something more. Against all odds, he makes it into the annual Wings Across the World race where he competes against established world-class talent.
While the plot is thin, it doesn’t need to be deep as the main audience is younger and wouldn’t understand a deep plot anyway. The characters still draw you in and make the story interesting. There are definite parallels to Pixar’s Cars films—there’s a Mater-esque character, for a big one which really stands out—but the film has plenty of quality without having to use it’s lineage to support itself. Many of the characters use stereotypes from around the world, but those same stereotypes make the story work well, and the story has to be king.
The animation is excellent, especially the environmental effects such as rain, smoke, clouds, and the ocean. The animators at DisneyToon Studios—who have recently honed their skills on the series of Tinker Bell films—is really starting to shine. The character animation (and everything else) has improved quite a bit from their early efforts such as the awful Return of Jafar, and we now have another good production studio heavily influenced by Luxo’s creators. That’s a definite win for animation fans.
Now, as a reviewer, I often read other reviews (after I write mine) just to see how my opinions stack up against the sea of other reviewers out there. Because I had a great time watching this film, I was surprised at the sea of negativity I found among reviewers; just check out the nega-fest sampler over on Wikipedia. It appears reviewers are way out of tocuh with their audience, however, as those negative opinions were generally not shared by regular moviegoers. This film certainly won’t win any awards, but it is a fun, family-friendly film which most (or all) kids will enjoy, and it has plenty of jokes for the grownups as well.
I wish there were more films like this which offer good, clean entertainment which can be enjoyed by all ages. It even has a positive message about not giving up on your dreams, but doesn’t beat you with it about the head. I recommend Planes, and I encourage you to support DisneyToons in their efforts by picking it up on video and/or going to see it in theaters. Your dollars speak volumes to the Disney execs.
Release Date: August 9, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Violence: 1 (plane, old, fighting)