Susan Granger's review of 'Planes'
Published 3:55 pm, Friday, August 30, 2013
Given the staggering amount of money the Walt Disney Company made from their "Cars" franchise, it's not surprising that their "imagineers" have now taken flight. So buckle up!
This time, a feisty little airplane named Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is determined to escape his humdrum life of spraying fertilizer on farm fields and enter an around-the-world race intended for much more sleek, sophisticated aircraft -- like egotistical Ripslinger (voiced by Roger Craig Smith), who has won the race three times and is determined to add this fourth win. (If the plot seems predictable, you probably saw "Turbo," released earlier this summer, about a garden snail determined to race in the Indy 500.)
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Plucky Dusty is reluctantly coached by Skipper (voiced by Stacy Keach), an old Navy Corsair who spins World War II stories. Dusty's support team includes his dim-witted fuel-truck buddy Chug (Brad Garrett) and perky Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher), the forklift. Keeping an eagle eye on international sales, the air racers stop all around the globe -- and there's an amusing joke about reincarnation over India. For tiny tots, the only scary part comes when Dusty faces real danger during a turbulent storm at sea. Because he's afraid of heights, Dusty's always flown low and now he's flying frighteningly close to the roiling waves.
In addition to Dusty, there are other high-flyin' competitors, like Mexico's El Chupacabra (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), who ardently woos French-Canadian Rochelle (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Britain's veteran Bulldog (voiced by John Cleese) with his stiff-upper-propeller, who is enamored with the sassy Indian jet-setter Ishani (voiced by Priyanka Chopra).
Animated by DisneyToon Studios, known for its low-budget sequels to Disney classics, it's decidedly second rate. Stereotypically scripted by Jeffrey M. Howard, based on a story by director Klay Hall, executive producer John Lasseter and Howard, it's similar to "Cars" in that these aircraft are sentient -- they think and they talk.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Disney's "Planes" barely lifts with a flimsy 5 -- weighted down with an air of familiarity.