by Hope Madden
The tortoise and hare fable meets Top Gun in Disney’s blandly watchable gear-head adventure Planes.
Dusty the crop duster (Dane Cook) wants to fly a prestigious, international air race. His opponents mock and underestimate him, he’s afraid of heights, and he faces a coaching crisis at the worst moment. The odds he must overcome – how can he do it?!
The uninspired waste of time comes courtesy of director Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure) and screenwriter Jeffrey Howard, who boasts a slew of Tinkerbell-related work. Boast may not be the right word. Together they spawn an uninspired derivative of a familiar concept.
Back in 2006, Pixar released its weakest product to that date, Cars. It was a middling effort – not a bad premise, decent cast, pleasant enough to look at. The reason it felt so disappointing was that it came from the animation genius factory that had already brought us two Toy Stories and found Nemo.
Disney’s making the connection to the Pixar flick as obvious as possible without actually cribbing characters. Too bad, though, because while Cars is hardly a stellar work, a familiar face to spy in a crowd might have given this flick a glimmer of excitement. (Credit the filmmakers for including the voices of Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards just as Dusty finds himself in the danger zone.)
No real laughs, no memorable characters, no novelty, not enough conflict, no interesting villains – basically, Planes offers nothing we’ve come to expect from an industry revolutionized by Pixar. Disney should try seeing Pixar’s work as an inspiration for unique work rather than an opportunity to cash in.