If Cars Could Fly: A Review of “Cars 3,” I mean, “Planes”

Planes

Planes (Klay Hall, 2013)

Dusty Crophopper (the voice of Dane Cook) is an overly ambitious crop duster airplane whose mantra – “I want to do more than what I was built for”  – leads him to enter an around-the-world racing competition. A doping scandal offers him a way in to the field, and he’s off. Along the way, he must conquer demons internal (a fear of heights) and external (sore-loser competitors, weather), relying as much on his wits and good nature as on his physical skills. Lessons are learned, friendships are made and unmade, and good triumphs over evil. What more could you ask for? I’d certainly recommend you take your kids to this over Pacific Rim. However, I’d also recommend that you stay at home and watch (or re-watch) The Muppets, or go to the Cineplex and watch Monsters University, both of which were also released by Disney and offer far greater (and more original) pleasures.

The film opens with a “World of Cars” graphic, and so we know right away what we’re in for. If you liked Cars 2 (for my money, the worst Pixar film ever made), chances are you’ll like this. Did you know that there was an online virtual environment based on the movie Cars (for my money, the second worst Pixar film ever made)? You can also check out this wiki if you’re truly interested. Why not move there, in fact?

To be fair, Planes is not without its pleasures. I liked the tractors as stand-ins for cows. They drive around freely in India because, of course, tractors are sacred in India . . . I also laughed out loud one or two times, but the problem is that I can’t remember when, where or why. It’s just all such a been-there-done-that kind of affair. I yawn just thinking about it.

One other nice thing about the film is that many of the voices are NOT top celebrities. An actor friend of mine once lamented how animation had finally been overrun with celebrity, so that hard-working character actors were now unable to find work in a medium that had previously been open to people with good voices and unknown faces. For example, who the hell is Dane Cook? True, John Cleese and Brad Garrett (I hyperlink his name because you may not actually know who he is – some kind of celebrity, huh?) are recognizable, but I mistook one of the other guys (if you watch the film, guess who!) for Antonio Banderas, and I was wrong.

There are lots of problems I had with the film, beyond its blandness, such as the awful ethnic stereotypes and the completely loopy geography, but I would have forgiven much of that if I’d been having a better time. Amazingly, the 3D added nothing. Can you believe it? Meh.

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