Planes is the latest film from Disney’s “other” animation house, the one responsible for such classics as Bambi II and Return to Neverland. While I am the last person to accuse the multinational media company of a cheap cash in, it is hard to ignore given the origin of this Cars spinoff as a direct-to-video film.
Drawing from the same familiar well as the recent Turbo, Planes centers on Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a crop-duster who wants to be a racing plane. With the help of a World War II Corsair named Skipper (Stacy Keach), he enters a race around the world. During the race he meets planes embodying various international stereotypes voiced by a parade of notable actors including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Carlos Alazraqui, and Priyanka Chopra. He also squares off against the villainous Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) to prove that he can race.
While bolstered by some truly fun scenes of flying across all kinds of landscapes worldwide, the animation pales in comparison to more recent output like Monsters University or Epic. While it may not be noticeable at home, the lack of detail in the characters and backgrounds is noticeable in the theater. That’s not to say that the animation is bad in any way, but the eye candy isn’t as lush as we’re becoming accustomed to.
Planes is pleasant enough to be a distraction, and those under 7 are likely to be rapt with attention, but there isn’t much here to entice adult fans of animation or parents looking to be entertained.
Planes opens today in Philly area theaters.