It’s reported that Planes was originally meant to be a direct-to-home video spin-off – not unlike The Return of Jafar or Lion King 1-1/2 – that Disney ultimately decided to give the 3D treatment and slap it onto the big screen for a much more lucrative release. From a business aspect, it’s a smart idea. 3D + big screen ticket prices + a new adventure from the proven Cars world = a lot more cashola than simple home video revenue – which they’ll still accrue when they release the Blu-ray just before Christmas. But from a moviegoing point-of-view, Planes is a horrible idea. Parents will feel the pressure of paying full price to take their kids to see a highly advertised movie that’s only worth the admission to a discount theater.
Get ready for a blend of Cars and Cars 2. Planes mixes the racing from Cars and the underdog story of Cars 2 into a 90-minute joyless, heartless snoozefest. The underdog is a crop duster named Dusty who dreams of being a world-class aerial racer. Nothing can break his dream, so he tries out for a race around the world and somehow manages to get in. Now playing in the big leagues, a local legendary World War II fighter must teaching him some tricks and train him along the way. The voice cast includes B- and C-class stars Dane Cook (as Dusty), Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer and Sinbad.
You’re probably saying, “Luke, you’re a critic. You hate most movies, so it’s expected that you’re going to loath the spin-off a franchise that you already dislike.” While that’s true, don’t just take my word for it. I took five-year-old Little Miss Hickman with me to Disney’s Planes screening and even she was bored. After an hour, she seemed to be more entertained comparing the screen with and without her 3D glasses. Our typical post-movie tradition is to talk about the movie on the drive home, asking one another “What was your favorite part?” This drive home was silent. When I asked, “Elizabeth, what was your favorite part?” there was a long pause followed by, “I don’t know.” “Elizabeth, which parts did you like?” Again, “I don’t know.” “Were there any parts that you liked?” Her final answer says it all, “I don’t remember.”
Planes is forgettable. Calling it a run-of-the-mill movie is giving it a compliment because that statement implies that it was average. Planes isn’t average. It’s below average. It’s sub-par. Effortless and lazy. And as Elizabeth’s opinion shows, it’s just as forgettable for children as it is for adults. Don’t be a sucker. Save Planes for the buck theater or a Redbox rental – which might be the better option since you won’t have to sit through it with them.
Photo credit: Buena Vista