Movie review: 'Planes' is not one of Disney's best

For the News-DemocratAugust 8, 2013 

What It's About

With more than a little resemblance to "Cars," Disney takes to the sky in "Planes" to create a basic underdog adventure that's a madcap race around the globe.

Our hero, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), is a tiny cropduster who is afraid of heights but dreams of putting his need for speed into a bigger arena. His cocky competitor is reigning champ Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). Nice-guy Dusty meets a gaggle of interesting characters along the way who rally round and help him to the finish line.

Along the way, there are lessons about friendship and sportsmanship, while the dazzling derring-do in the sky keeps little ones glued to the screen.

Performances

The all-star voices bring these anthropromorphic characters to life, as the planes, trucks and service vehicles have eyeballs and human gestures (just like "Cars"). Sinbad and Cedric the Entertainer provide comic relief, and Stacy Keach stands out as Dusty's mentor Skipper, an ex-fighter pilot. Brad Garrett is funny as Dusty's best buddy Chug.

The best move here is nabbing the Top Gun alums Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer to do cameos.

What Works

The down-home Propwash Junction has the glow of small-town charm on screen, and the scenes around the world are affecting. The ambition lies in the flight patterns, and a pilot told me that Disney got it right with the plane movements -- their attention to detail is always remarkable.

The blue-sky scenes where the competitors are manuevering for their shot at the title are the best, because all the swirling, whirling, swoops and swooshes are fantastically captured. At times, you can get dizzy from all the fast, furious plane acrobatics, as they maximize the 3-D effects.

What Doesn't Work

This film is not done by Pixar, only parent-company Disney. Perhaps the Pixar house, with its attention to storytelling, would have finessed a better script. It's amusing for the wee ones, with a dollop of danger -- and no doubt a merchandising vessel.

It's not a bad movie, but for Disney, it's an ordinary one.

2 1/2 stars out of 4

Director: Klay Hall

Starring: (voices of) Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese

Length: 1:32

Rated: PG for some mild action and rude humor

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