'Planes', a spinoff of Pixar’s 'Cars' was supposed to release direct to DVD, and for some bizarre reason Disney decided to release it in theaters. A more interesting study than a review of the film would be the thought process behind this decision, but since we don’t have access to the minds of the good folks at Disney, let’s figure out what the film is about.
Starring Dane Cook, an unfunny comedian but a passably fine voiceover artist, Brad Garret and our very own Priyanka Chopra as a desi flight, 'Planes' has a story imagined by a seven year old brandishing toy planes. The hero Dusty is a crop duster who dreams of racing with the boss planes. His friends Chug (a fuel truck) and Dottie (a forklift mechanic) along with a WW2 veteran Skipper help him enter the Wings Around the Globe Rally to take on the scummy guys like Ripslinger, El Chupacabra and Ishanti. How could he, a rookie possibly win, given the odds are so against his favor? If you have seen more than three children’s films in your life, you’ll know the answer.
It’s not that the clichéd story makes 'Planes' a tedious watch, it’s the uncomfortable knowledge of the studio’s blatant attempt to make this film just to sell toys that bothers. Earlier 'Cars' was the least critically revered film of Pixar but a sequel was made just to sell merchandize – and it worked because Disney-Pixar ended up with billions of extra dollars in their piggy banks.
Even if you somehow get over the nausea of the cash grab, the humor in the film doesn’t do much to keep you entertained. There’s fart jokes, pop culture stereotypes and puns based on planes, the lowest form of animation filmmaking that exists. Moreover, after a point the filmmakers simply give up on telling a new story and straightaway rip off the two Cars films. The dynamic between Lightening McQueen and Doc is reused here, as is the concept of multinational racers in glowing neon style tracks. And when the story begins to disappear the film relies on the colorful and often good looking animation to pad its way to the finish line. It’s a lazy film made for lazy people and it belongs in the same bin that contains Brother Bear 2 and Open Season 2 and 3.