Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper (voice)
Stacy Keach as Skipper (voice)
Brad Garrett as Chug (voice)
Teri Hatcher as Dottie (voice)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Rochelle (voice)
Priyanka Chopra as Ishani (voice)
John Cleese as Bulldog (voice)
Cedric the Entertainer as Leadbottom (voice)
Carlos Alazraqui as El Chupacabra / Additional Voices (voice)
Roger Craig Smith as Ripslinger / Additional Voices (voice)
Anthony Edwards as Echo (voice)
Val Kilmer as Bravo (voice)
Sinbad as Roper (voice)
Gabriel Iglesias as Ned / Zed (voice)
Brent Musburger as Brent Mustangburger (voice)
Directed by Klay Hall
"Planes" has some cool flying animation and should please children, but the unoriginal plot and bland characters make it pretty forgettable for adults.
Set in the world of "Cars," "Planes" features Dusty Crophopper, a crop dusting plane that dreams of one day becoming a racer. Determined and optimistic, nothing gets this plane down… except his fear of extreme heights. Through skill and good fortune, Dusty manages to qualify for a race around the world, but he's going to need to get over his fear of heights if he has any hope of winning the race. He might just do it with the help of his friends including an old WWII fighter by the name of Skipper. Dusty will need the experienced plane's expertise if he's going to defeat the reigning champion Ripslinger.
"Planes" is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.
For me, the highlight of "Planes" was the 3D animation. It worked quite well as the airplanes flew in and out of the screen and they gave you a first person view as Dusty flew through canyons, between trees, and around other obstacles. The end result is a film that makes the most of the big screen medium.
While much of the film was rather bland, a couple of scenes did stand out. The first was when El Chupacabra, in an attempt to woo the Canadian plane Rochelle, starts singing "Love Machine" with a blaring boom box. But then Dusty helps him and he ends up singing a great acoustic version of the song along with a Mariachi band. It turns into an unexpected and fun musical moment. Another scene features a flashback by Skipper to his WWII days. We see him and his squadron in a rather brutal air battle against some ships in the Pacific. It was an unexpected moment in an otherwise 'safe' movie with no surprises. I probably could have watched an entire film of nothing but the WWII planes.
While there are no bonus scenes in the credits, there is a logo for the upcoming "Planes: Fire and Rescue." So if you or your kids liked this film, you'll be glad to see that.
What Didn't Work:
The big problem with "Planes" is that it feels completely phoned in. Other than the fact that it features living airplanes, there is no other novelty to this story. It's your typical underdog sports story with all of the usual clichés and it is utterly predictable. You can look at the movie poster and trailer and figure out the entire plot of this film. It's that by the numbers.
Besides the familiar plot, none of the characters are real standouts. Dane Cook was perfectly adequate as Dusty Crophopper, but anybody could have played the role and done an equivalent job. All of the other characters are similarly dull which is a surprise considering the cast includes Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese. They even have a fun "Top Gun"-themed cameo by Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards, but you don't even realize it was them until the credits rolled. Overall, it does not feel like the cast was used to their full potential.
The Bottom Line:
I'm sure "Planes" will make Disney a lot of money and kids under 10 will love it. And while it is severely lacking in many respects, there are a lot worse films that parents could sit through. "Planes," fortunately, is tolerable.