Nine years ago, Toy Story 3 was announced as a project to be produced by a studio outside of Pixar. Well, it wouldn’t be the same movie of course; the planned plot sounded oddly akin to that of Toy Story 2; but all in all, it would have been another Toy Story movie, this time made without Pixar. Now, thankfully, that production was shelved once Disney had acquired Pixar, and eventually Pixar decided to make the film themselves, forming that brilliantly heartfelt film we all know today.
While Pixar continued making their own franchises, Disney kept the idea of a spin-off at hand. And when the Cars franchise started doing really well in merchandising (despite a fair amount of criticism), they decided to go for it once again by creating Planes, a spin-off centering around an entirely new cast.
The film stars Dusty (Dane Cook), a crop-duster who dreams of entering races (racing is still all they could come up with), finally gets his chance to prove himself with a spot in a race across the world. But before he can take the prize, he has to conquer an irrational fear of heights, as well as make up for his farming-based build.
The thing is that due to the merchandise-oriented nature of this movie, it is absolutely devoid of substance. The plot, although perhaps structured to a basic degree, lacks charm, and feels about as dynamic as an after-school special. There is no excitement, no surprise, and it just makes the audience feel as if they’re coasting until the end. While there are a few points of intelligent humor, it’s mostly poorly executed and uninspired.
The characters are basically hollow, cultural stereotypes, and not one of them feels memorable or genuine, with the possible exception of Skipper (Stacy Keach), a grounded naval aviator with a tragic past. But regardless of his apparent depth, Skipper is effectively just Doc Hudson from Cars — the older, traumatized mentor hiding in his shell. In fact, while we’re on that subject, the character filling the “best friend” role is pretty much just another Mater.
On the whole, this movie is just a marketing ploy. There’s nothing to it that’s worthwhile — it’s just a means to get kids excited for the Cars franchise again so that Disney can make money on the merchandising. But what they’ve created has little more worth than that.
Age Recommendation: No problems here.
Final Verdict: The little heart that this movie has is stiff and clichéd. 2/10