By Barnetty Kushner

Disney’s short film “Air Mater” first introduced us to Propwash Junction, the setting for Planes. Mater, the tow truck from the Disney Cars movie, travels to Propwash Junction to learn how to fly from the Skipper (Stacey Keach), a WWII Corsair and one of the characters from Planes. By the end of the short film, Mater looks into the camera and says, “Hey they ought to make a movie about planes!” And so they did….

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a crop duster who spends his days dreaming of becoming a racer. Dusty brings his dream to fruition by competing in the Wings Around the Globe competition, a worldwide race that brings together the best racers from around the world. Realizing he has no formal racing training, Dusty tries to enlist the help of Skipper. The Skipper along with some very trusty and faithful friends puts Dusty through some rigorous obstacles to help prepare him for the race. Skipper’s main reason for doing this is to see if Dusty was going to throw in the towel, which he never does. The big race takes place over several days and ventures through some treacherous weather conditions. If rough terrain wasn’t enough, Dusty has a severe phobia of heights which makes him incapable of avoiding the harsh weather by flying above these adverse conditions, instead he opts to fly low and through it.

Disney’s attempt at trying to capitalize on the Cars franchise fell a bit short with this one. I think there were too many similarities between Planes and Cars which wasn’t a good thing. Especially with the resemblance of the Planes characters to those of the characters from Cars. Dusty’s funny dimwitted sidekick Chug(Brad Garrett) was a lot like Mater, and the old grumpy coach, Skipper who initially had little faith in the young racer reminded me of Doc Hudson. The girl Dottie (Teri Hatcher), and of course the pompous, bully, take no prisoners racer, Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). Notice the coincidence?! The definite stand outs of the movie are El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), the racer from Mexico, who spends much of the race trying to win the affections of female French Canadian competitor Rochelle(Julia Louis Dreyfus), with his silly pick up lines and ridiculous serenading. And, Roper (Sinbad), the race organizer, whose witty sarcastic quips never cease to end and kept movie goers laughing out loud in every scene he was in.

What sets Disney apart from its competitors is their ability to create an emotional connection to its characters. I believe they failed to do that with Planes. Pixar, the production company behind most of Disney’s successful movies including Cars, has allowed DisneyToons Studio to helm the reigns of this production, which I believe is the reason it lacked a depth to each character and a poignant storyline. That being said, from the perspective of a child, it’s still an entertaining and charming movie. The general moral of the story is a great one, “To be more than what we are made for!” As a parent, this is the life lesson we would love our child(ren) to carry with them throughout their entire life.

3 out of 5 stars

Second Review by Jennifer Fiduccia

The movie Planes was big, colorful, fast moving and fun.

While I didn’t hands down absolutely LOVE it, the way that I did its predecessor Cars, I did enjoy it a lot.

Given the choice, I would not have seen it in 3D, as there are a lot of flying scenes (obviously) that are seen from the first person, and those always make me, personally, vaguely nauseous.

I think the movie had a solid, if predictable, story line. It will keep the children watching it entertained, and isn’t that really the point? It isn’t one of those movies that the parents will utterly dread going to see, and they won’t find themselves wishing that the theatre would pay THEM to bring the kids to it, either.

The voice actors in Planes give great personality & character to each Plane that they portray.

Dusty Crophopper, voiced by Dane Cook, is hopeful and dreams big, wanting to be more than he was built for. Skipper (Stacy Keach), is an ex Naval plane, that’s mysterious & intriguing while Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) is beautiful and sweet.

Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), is Dusty’s hero, but proves to have a bit of a sinister and self-serving side, which adds a good amount of tension to the story. El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) provides comic relief & and certainly steals some scenes.

Dusty manages to qualify for a race around the world, and asks Skipper to help him train. Skipper reluctantly agrees, and they work to overcome Dusty’s fear of heights (anything over 1000 feet).

Dusty works hard to overcome his perceived shortcomings and helps out others along the way, earning respect and friendships along the way.

Disney’s Planes was initially going to be released as a direct-to-video offering. At some point during production, it was decided to premiere it on the big screen. I think that was a great decision. Planes grand scope and soaring scenes would have been wasted on a direct to TV screen debut, and really deserves the opportunity to be seen in the theatre.

I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.