Published Aug 08, 2013Though specifically removed from the Pixar brand — something evident in the low grade animation and C-list voice talent — embarrassingly bland and oddly prurient cash-grab Planes is eager to remind its viewers of its relationship to the world of Cars. The opening images canvas the ground below, giving us an on-screen reminder of the mediocre franchise Planes stems from before leaping into the sky, where we see that the entire world is run by machines in this questionable, almost illogical (how do cars and planes use stairs and reside in apartment buildings?) universe.
As far as an entity unto itself, Planes is about as meek and milquetoast as they come, having ostensibly the same narrative trajectory as the slightly less insincere and painful Turbo, featuring a small town American underdog dreamer — a crop duster named Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) — joining a global flight competition to prove himself. His journey is that of overcoming lazily conceived obstacles and an array of interchangeable baddies while warding off a bizarre litany of phallocentric humour about "ploughing" and flying with equipment of an insubstantial size.
Under the tutelage of a Navy Corsair (Stacey Keach), the lessons, as manufactured and repetitive as they are, boil down to parental necessity and the importance of striving for dreams. This leaves a sour taste in the mouth considering the implicit social problem with telling everyone they're unique and special.
Another issue is the casual presentation of racial stereotypes, whether black, Indian or British. Eventually, the climactic arc relies on global harmony, when other planes from around the world aid our American protagonist, but since they're all just cheap clichés, there's a sense that the American dream is of paramount importance to everyone, which, considering our modern political climate, is as insensitive as it is ignorant.
Still, there's occasionally some inspired use of spatial relations during the aerial sequences and plenty of colour, which may distract particularly young viewers from the inherent dullness of it all. (Buena Vista)