Apr 24, 2015

[Movies] Planes (2013)

As an odd follow-up to my review of Planes: Fire & Rescue, I'm finally reviewing the first movie, Planes. In my defense, I did watch the movies in order - I just didn't publish the reviews in chronological order based on my posting schedule. Hooray personal blogging quirks.

Now I was never all that much invested in the Cars universe. It's my least favorite of all the Pixar movies, and admittedly there's a bit of a distance between the next ranked movie and that one. It's just how it is.

So this movie was a little unexpected and a weird little crossover between what we know to be the Pixar side of things and the Disney side of the fence. And while Disney did acquire Pixar, they've largely remained independent in terms of their respective intellectual properties. So this movie represented an interesting effort to allow the Disney side of the how to play around in a playground created by Pixar. The resulting story wasn't entirely terribly, but it also didn't quite feel so distinct.

Synopsis: Planes is a 2013 animated movie directed by Klay Hall with a screenplay by Jeffrey M. Howard. It's a spin-off of the Cars movie franchise and is actually the first movie in a planned trilogy of such movies.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a cropduster plane with big dreams of being a professional racer. But of course he's really not designed for tat sort of thing and he contents himself with imagining himself in the big races of the world while he goes about his cropdusting duties. And while most scoff at his dreams, he does have some support from Chug (Brad Garrett), a fuel truck friend of Dusty's. He eventually manages to join a qualifying race and performs decently but not enough to qualify for the bigger race.

Skipper (Stacy Keach), an older navy plane reluctantly agrees to help train Dusty before the big race. His main argument is that race performance has more to do with skill than raw power. Thus the only edge that might help him in his races is if he works on his speed and agility. But there's one other catch - Dusty actually has a fear of heights, thus he doesn't dare fly all that high. And this may be quite the liability in his racing efforts since he won't be able to take advantage of the tailwinds much higher up.

The core story of the movie doesn't feel like a new one - someone aspiring to be greater than himself in some very public arena. It's a story as classic as The Little Engine That Could in terms of perseverance and determination seeing someone through to the end. But hey, we all enjoy a classic tale every now and then I suppose. It just rather limited how far the story could go as well, especially given the final treatment.

The humor wasn't particular notable, at least in terms of dialog. Sure there were a good number of interesting little sight gags here and there, and that's always good for a laugh as long as you're eagle-eyed. But given the dialog wasn't quite as compelling as the other stuff, on the whole it felt a little short. Or maybe I'm judging a Disney movie based on Pixar standards? Should that even matter any more at this point given the combined company?

Voice acting wasn't all that distinct either. I mean, the acting wasn't necessarily bad, but things we're all that memorable. And I say this despite the fact that they decided to go the dangerous international rout with a few characters all dolled up to celebrate their respective countries. I don't think they crossed any lines or anything silly like that, but it just didn't go far enough or didn't feel integral enough to the story. They were just so much background noise without key moments to really celebrate them except maybe for the serenade involving El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui).

But hey, I'm just an old kid trying to enjoy a movie that clearly wasn't targeting me. Pixar movies have spoiled us with a lot of movies with universal comedic appeal. In this case it wasn't quite that universal and it probably works well enough for its target market.

So Planes may just not be my cup of tea and that's not inherently good or bad - we all like different things. So this was a movie that I just couldn't really get into. And so it gets 2 strange high-flying hijinks out of a possible 5.

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