Director: Klay Hall
Voices of: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach
2 (out of 5) Globes
Just in case “Turbo” didn’t warm your heart with its computer-animated, underdog story of a snail who wants to be a competitive racer, here comes “Planes,” a computer-animated, underdog story of a plane that wants to be a competitive racer.
“Planes” is technically the beginning of a spinoff franchise of Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” movies (aka the movies people don’t mention when they bring up how amazing Pixar movies are). Set in the same world those talking automobiles populate, this movie has the usually amped-up comedian Dane Cook voicing Dusty Crophopper, a low-flying crop-duster who longs to race professionally. After proving his chops at a qualifying race (he was placed sixth, but got into the top five after another plane was disqualified for using performance-enhancing fuel), he gets to compete in the “Wings Around the Globe” rally.
Since he’s a crop duster, he immediately gets some shade thrown his way from fellow racers, especially from cocky, villainous frontrunner Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). Luckily, his selfless, can-do attitude wins over most of the other competitors, including El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), a masked, Mexican aircraft who spends most of the movie trying to win the affection of the French-Canadian flyer Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, John Cleese and Cedric the Entertainer are some of the other stars who voice these traveling machines. (In an odd nod to "Top Gun," Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards show up as a couple of Navy fighter jets.) While this is technically not a Disney/Pixar joint, Pixar/Disney Animation Studios CEO John Lasseter has given this movie his blessing by serving as executive producer.
But there isn’t anything remotely new about “Planes.” Veteran animation director Klay Hall and screenwriter Jeffrey M. Howard give us yet another archetype-filled, cartoon kiddie film about a protagonist who overcomes unbeatable odds to do whatever they’re supposed to do or something like that.
However, “Planes” appears to be on an unflappable mission to disarm audiences with its adorable toothlessness. You may not be surprised much — if not at all — by what happens, but at least you’ll walk out of the theater moderately pleased. Not to mention that Cook’s Crophopper is such a beacon of decent, nice-guy perseverance, it may be first time many audience members ever liked Cook in a movie.