Mark Reviews Movies



1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Klay Hall

Cast: The voices of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith

MPAA Rating: PG (for some mild action and rude humor)

Running Time: 1:32

Release Date: 8/9/13

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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 9, 2013

Before we see anything the movie has to offer, the movie announces in big, bold letters that Planes is part of the "World of Cars." This spin-off also features the plot, character types, and creepy design of the weakest pairing of movies in Pixar's oeuvre, so I suppose it gets points for honesty.

Those points, of course, are countered by how derivative the movie is. Seriously, there's a plane living in a quaint little town that becomes involved in a big race, and all of his friends help him get ready for it. His friends include an old plane that knows a thing or two about flying (or at least it says it does) and a really dumb service truck that is eager to help the hero and is—it must be iterated—really, really dumb.

We've seen this before, and it wasn't much to see the first two times (especially the second). What we have here is nothing more than a cynical cash-grab (The fact that Pixar is not involved is kind of a giveaway) that does nothing to expand upon or improve the world of the movies it's aping and only raises more questions about the deranged universe where planes, cars, trains, ships, and other modes of transportation (all, apparently, fodder for future sequels/spin-offs) exist without any discernible reason. I'm sure I've covered this before, but really, if the movie isn't going to try, is there any reason I should?

The plot involves Dusty Crophopper (voice of Dane Cook), a crop duster (Do you get the name now?) from Propwash Junction with dreams of becoming a famous racer. While he's out doing his daily grind of spraying fertilizer on corn, he fantasizes about speeding across the sky with jet planes.

What do planes, cars, trains, etc., need with corn anyway? A throwaway line tells us that fuel is made of all sorts of plants, including corn, so that's at least a partial explanation. The question then arises: Who makes the fuel? We can guess the vehicles themselves, but think of the warped evolutionary kink that allows creatures that need manufactured/processed energy simply to survive to end up ruling the planet.

Dusty, with the help of his fuel truck buddy Chug (voice of Brad Garrett) and a veteran Navy plane named Skipper (voice of Stacy Keach), ends up in the Wings Around the World rally (after a time-trial sequence with as many thrills as one could expect from a time-trial sequence), a globe-trotting race that has participants start in New York City (The city contains skyscrapers that are still human-sized, which hints at some horrifying past in which the vehicles slaughtered all of humanity to ensure dominion over Earth, or maybe it's just further proof of a poorly considered design) and stop at various places around the world. Along the way, Dusty and his fellow racers encounter vehicles that conform to more cultural stereotypes than any child should know exist.

Dusty's nemesis is Ripslinger (voice of Roger Craig Smith), a three-time champion with two minions (voice of Gabriel Iglesias) that have debates about movies, which, of course, are from the either past or non-existent human world (unless forklifts are boxers and maybe a bicycle is the "dog" that gets shot at the end). His allies include Ishani (voice of Priyanka Chopra), who explains how her people believe vehicles are "recycled" into cow-like tractors if they're good, and El Chupacabra (voice of Carlos Alazraqui), a masked plane with a cape who falls for Rochelle (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

That little romance leads to, what I believe to be, the first time we see some physical displays of affection between two vehicles in this world (off-screen, of course), which leads us to yet another discussion. It seems unlikely that these vehicles can reproduce (There are no little planes flying around), but can they mate? It seems likely, and given that there are no obvious drawbacks to it, why do these vehicles even bother with racing instead of just living hedonistic lifestyles of completely worry-free fun? And what's with the aircraft carrier the USS Flysenhower (groan—a thousand times groan), which is alive (Look at those empty eyes) but seems perfectly content to have planes and forklifts roam freely on top of and inside it?

In case it isn't clear, I don't care for these movies and am highly suspicious of the world in which they exist. Beyond the troublesome philosophical and logistical problems, though, Planes is tiring spin-off that's stretching to copy the charm of material that was lacking it in the first place.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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