Planes: Flying Onto the Small Screen

Planes, Image: 2013 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Image: 2013 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Last week saw the release of Planes on Disney DVD. I was pretty excited to see this film, because it is one of the few Disney releases I did not get to see on the big screen. Having explored the world above the world of Cars this week, I’m quite happy putting this into our regular rotation of family night movies. Here’s why I think you should join me.

To start with, I’m not even going to pretend you can watch this movie, let alone review it, without inevitably comparing it to Cars. There are cars in this movie, Mater’s short “Air Mater” set the scene for the feature film, you simply cannot avoid comparison. The movie has the same feel to it, both about vehicles with independent lives and personalities, both center around racing.

Cars had a very simple story line behind it, it was the Doc Hollywood of the cartoon world. In Planes I could see several story lines at work within one overall story, all of which are played out well, and any one of which is sure to appeal to you:

  • Dusty Crophopper. Local boy makes good. Farm boy makes good. Underdog surprises all. This is the overarching theme of the movie. That a small crop duster plane can dream beyond the world he was born into and soar higher than even he knew was possible, literally. But this isn’t my favorite storyline.
  • Skipper Riley. Skipper’s story ends up being a lot harsher than the one you thought they were telling. It’s the cartoon version of the movie that Ben Affleck should have made instead of Pearl Harbor! But this isn’t my favorite storyline.
  • El Chupacabra. El Chu is the Mexican racer who is consumed by his love for Canadian plane Rochelle. He is aided in his pursuit of Rochelle by Dusty. Think Steve Martin in RoxanneBut this isn’t my favorite storyline!
  • Ishani. The Pan Asian champion, a ruthless but beautiful plane who does despicable things in order to win, but is redeemed by the end of the movie. This is my favorite storyline, and after watching her short clip on the extras section of the DVD “Meet the Racers,” I like her even more. She wants to win. She knows she can win. She uses all of her guile to win. I don’t want to spoil her story too much here, but it was her contribution to Dusty’s victory that got me choked up.
  • Then there’s the bad guy. The bad guys in the previous movies from this mechanical world were all likable villains. Ripslinger is just plain out nasty. It gives Dusty’s story line something more to back up against. Ripslinger is not the bad guy you love to laugh at like Chick Hicks, he’s not the bad guy with a world view motive like Miles Axelrod, he’s just the bad guy who wants to win.

Ever since my special edition of Sleeping Beauty in 2003, I have been addicted to the extras provided by Disney on their DVD release. Planes didn’t have as many as I would like, but none of them felt like filler extras:

  • Deleted Scenes – storyboard material and rough animation for some extended scenes.
  • Franz’s song – A deleted song by Franz the flying car. I am so glad they deleted this song from the movie because I love it and it would inevitably get stuck in my head for days!
  • Top Ten Flyers – Colin Cowherd goes through a list of pilots (flyers) and looks at their contributions to aviation.
  • Meet the Racers – The fictitious version of Top Ten Flyers.
  • Klay’s Flight Plan – The meat and potatoes of DVD extras in which the director, producer, and others talk about the movie.

I was most excited to see Klay’s Flight plan, which contains interviews with Klay Hall and John Lasseter, but I was surprised to find Meet the Racers was my favorite extra. Five short trailers for the movie, each focusing exclusively on one of the planes instead of the main story. It affirmed my love of Ishani. Though I did enjoy the sneak peak at the drawings from a train movie that was never made.

The movie’s theatrical release this summer generated much debate over the production of sequels and spin offs, but much like the movie’s hero, I think the underdog can hold its own against the big bad reviewers. It will certainly be interesting to see what the DVD sales do, will the nay-sayers win out, or will the kids who just love a good movie about planes rule the day? My vote is with the kids. After all “Is there an awesome beyond awesome, or is awesome the most awesome I’ll ever be.” – Ripslinger.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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