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Movie Review: Planes

Director: Klay Hall

Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra

Genre: Animation/ Comedy

Runtime: 91 minutes

 

Disney’s new film about a little underdog airplane with big dreams feels at times like the studio just strapped some wings on another movie.

That movie would be-- Cars.

In fact, one of the producers is digital-animation guru-exec John Lasseter, who directed both Cars and its sequel, and Toy Story and its sequel, for Pixar. (Disney purchased Pixar in 2006; Lasseter now heads the creative divisions of both merged companies). And Planes even reveals, on a placard, before the opening scene comes into view that we’re in ‘The World of Cars,’ a bustling alt-universe where people don’t exist, but mechanized vehicles have personalities, ambitions, facial features, and the voices of Hollywood stars.

The plot is generic to a fault, presenting Dusty (Dane Cook) as a typical fish out of water with big dreams whose fatal flaw is an inconvenient fear of extreme heights. The movie's flight plan follows the ups and downs of our brave little single-prop racer as he runs into an array of barriers—devious foes, a femme fatale, low fuel, bad weather and the ever-popular mechanical difficulties—while heading to such destinations as Iceland, the Himalayas and Mexico. Naturally, he has a crew of sidekicks including slow-witted fuel truck Chug (Brad Garrett), no-nonsense mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach). A Navy Corsair who flew in World War II plays the seasoned mentor (The film’s answer to Paul Newman's Doc Hudson in Cars).

Popular Bollywood actress, Priyanka Chopra makes her Hollywood debut with this film, providing the voice for the sexy Indian plane called Ishani. Though her character’s got a miniscule part, its fun to watch the animated plane talk and emote like the Bollywood diva. The song ‘Fly high’ would interest the Indian audience, since it is sung by Chopra.

Planes has some wonderfully goofy touches. In Bavaria, the aviation fuel is served in beer steins. For some crazy reason, “The Girl From Ipanema” plays when Dusty arrives in Iceland on the first leg of the race. Birds are gliders. Someone watches FlewTube on his skyPad. The sight of Skipper lowering his retractable wings is startlingly beautiful. The various impossible stunts plausibly presented throughout the movie reflects excellent work in aviation animation.