The world of Cars taking to the air could not be more of an apt way to describe Planes. The feel is the same. The themes are the same. It's just that the entire story takes place at thousands of feet elevation. Is that such a bad thing? If you’re a young child, it is frankly a little slice of heaven.
Planes is meant to be a spin-off of the popular Pixar franchise. Wings have replaced tires. Yet it is solely from Disney and one cannot help but feel a simultaneous case of delightful deja vu and the feeling that something is a little different -- and it has nothing to do with the altitude. Whereas Cars would find a quite broad audience, Planes has zeroed its engines squarely at the youngest members of the Disney fan club.
As seen in the Planes trailer, Dane Cook is Dusty, a crop duster who has daydreams of speed racing victories against the best. His aviator partner continually reminds him while they’re dusting crops of the reality of the situation and the importance of coming to terms with accepting one's limitations.
Dusty won't hear it and with the help of his mechanic (who comes in the form of a purple forklift voiced by Teri Hatcher) he readies to participate in an upcoming qualifying race. The goal: To make the grade for a cross-the-globe race.
Whether he makes it or not and how far he goes if he qualifies, you won’t get answers here. But what is interesting is how John Lasseter, a former head of Pixar who now runs Disney Animation, and screenwriter Jeffrey M. Howard have crafted a world that could not be more razor sharp when it comes to knowing its audience.
Inspiration flies left and right and it is easy to see how children will come flying out of the theaters ready to soar in whatever endeavor they seek to master. As a parent, that is a priceless shot of encouragement for a generation too often bombarded with negativity in today’s world. Adults may not enjoy Planes as much as Cars or other animated movies, but that was never really the point.
Finding the courage to fly when others seek to see you stay grounded can not be a better mantra for a young child to hear. And when told with vibrant and rich characters with a color palette that is exploding off the screen in 3D, for the young Movie Fanatic out there, Planes will feel like pure stimulation with a side of popcorn. But, it must be said that adults will not enjoy the film nearly as much.
The only thing that might concern those seeking to take their children to see the film, our Planes review can report, is that the film shares a theme with a recent animated movie about a snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500. Planes is no Turbo and their differences are clear in tone and message. And besides, nobody crafts stories for kids like the wonderful world of Disney.