Disney's Planes movie review

by Richard David Smith III
As a 3-D animated movie intended for an audience of children, Disney Planes doesn’t give a movie critic much with which to work. Right off the top, I can tell you that Planes is not as deeply reflective of society as Wall-E nor nearly as emotional as Up…but these are things that adult critics with too much time on their hands worry about, not kids and parents. However, you might be surprised to learn that Planes, at least as far as plot goes, is actually nothing like its four-wheeled automotive predecessor, Disney’s Cars. In Cars, the protagonist is Lightning McQueen, an arrogant, hotshot rookie race-car that gets stuck in the small town of Radiator Springs, where he learns valuable life lessons of true friendship and love from a vehicle voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, amongst others. In Planes, our hero Dusty Cropphopper (voiced by a barely discernible Dane Cook) actually calls one of these small Radiator Springs-like rural towns his home.
Making his living as a crop-duster, Dusty has a need for speed and longs to one day compete in the Wings Across the World Race. Advising against this wild dream by citing the physical limitations of his engine is his dutiful mechanic, Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher). Cheering him on is Chug (voiced by Everybody Loves Raymond brother Brad Garrett), who is already preparing to capitalize on Dusty’s heretofore unrealized potential and stardom by selling Crophopper racing merch. Under the hesitant tutelage of Skipper–an old, broken down, reclusive veteran warplane that is now mainly confined to a barn and unable to fly (voiced by Stacey Keach)—Dusty eventually earns his stripes (literally and figuratively) and succeeds in qualifying for the Wings Across the World Race.
After a few more pep talks from Skipper and a couple of tune-ups from Dottie, Dusty takes off for New York where he is immediately greeted by the cold swiftness of big city life. The film makes good use of the race being international. Visually, some of the best animations are the artistic renditions of foreign lands and the multicultural characters are where a lot of the more colorful plane personalities come into play. Carlos Alazraqui voices the loco Mexican plane “El Chupacabra,” Jon Cleese voices snobbish British plane “Bulldog,” and Priyanka Chopra voices “Ishani,” a spiritual Indian plane who worships the tractor-cows and tries to steer Dusty in the right direction despite the bad influence of race-favorite and all-around bully, Ripslinger (Roger Crag Smith).
The film’s finale is Disney-predictable with Dusty’s newly acquired plane pals coming to his rescue and sharing in his eventual triumph and downfall of his nemesis.