Movie Review: Planes Is High-Flying Fun

© Disney

The latest Disney animated flick, Planes, hits theaters nationwide today with a cast of fun, new characters that kids and adults are going to love. This is an official Cars spin-off, but don’t expect to see any of those characters taking center stage. This one is all about the planes, especially one determined little crop duster named Dusty.

The familiar part of the film is its world, where anthropomorphic cars and planes have lives full of joy and struggles just like people. The difference is that instead of hanging out in Radiator Springs with race cars, it’s an around-the-world race with planes.

Image: Disney
© Disney

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is just a crop duster in the American Midwest, but he longs to compete in a high stakes around-the-world race against the fastest planes on the planet. This isn’t an easy task because not only is he not built for racing, but he has a crippling fear of heights. Despite these challenges, Dusty’s practice and hard work earn him a spot on the roster.

He still has a long way to go if he hopes to make it to the finish, much less win, and that’s going to require some help. Old war veteran Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach) grudgingly agrees to train Dusty so he’ll be ready on race day.

Image: Disney
© Disney

The other racers see Dusty as an outsider and offer no support, instead teasing him and whittling away at his confidence, except for El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) who immediately befriends Dusty. On the flip slide, Dusty particularly offends race favorite Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) who tries to sabotage Dusty to ensure his own win.

I had the chance to see the world premiere of Planes earlier this week and really enjoyed the movie. It is, at its heart, a story of overcoming the odds to achieve your dreams. Dusty starts his journey with the support of just a few friends; his honesty, spirit, and determination earn the support of the other racers and legions of fans.

Kids will enjoy watching Dusty race to the finish in many a daring flight sequence that has him weaving through mountains and skimming the tops of threatening waves. They’ll also absolutely fall in love with his race buddy, El Chupacabra.

Image: Disney
© Disney

El Chu is the comic relief and runaway star of the movie. Forget the kids, even I loved this Mexican plane with his little mask and cape that he’s forever swishing at people in disdain. He’s going to be the Mater of Planes and I think he’ll give Dusty a run for the money in the popularity department.

It’s hard to believe that this movie was originally slated as a DisneyToons direct-to-video release where it would’t have garnered nearly the audience that it will as a theatrical release. It’s perfectly suited to the big screen and it would have been a shame if it hadn’t been recognized for its worth.

There’s nothing too intense so it’s a good one for even smaller kids who might be frightened by something with too much tension. It’s also got a healthy dose of comedy so even sad or scary moments are quickly replaced with fun ones. But don’t think this is just a kid flick, because I’d just as happily watch it even if I didn’t have little ones.

Image: Disney
© Disney

If you and your family enjoyed Cars, then you’re going to find Planes a welcome return to that world. You’ll leave the theater wanting to see more, and you’ll get exactly that in the second film, Planes: Fire & Rescue, which is due out in 2014.

I was provided with a trip to the #DisneyPlanesPremiere for review purposes.

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