Being a blatant cash cow-milking spin-off of Cars – arguably Pixar’s worst, least loved franchise – the idea of Planes has always smacked of direct-to-video filler. Still, that doesn’t really prepared you for how shockingly devoid it is of anything resembling originality, wit or surprise. Granted, it’s Disney’s project, not Pixar’s, but the same overall level of indifference and subpar storytelling that plagued Cars and its sequel has carried through here, and in effect amplified the primary issue with the series: the absence of consistent internal logic to its off-putting, unshakably creepy human-less universe of talking machines. Like why would these machines require portaloos, suitcases or a Taj Mahal? Why would they leave lipstick marks when they kiss? Kids won’t care? Fine, but when you stack this up against the likes of Wall-E, Up, Ratatouille, etc – animated features with wholly believable, richly developed worlds despite their flights of fancy – there’s only one word that applies to Planes: laziness.
The story regurgitates your standard underdog-triumphs formula, about a good-hearted crop duster named Dusty (Dane Cook) who’s realising his dream of competing in the Wings Around the Globe rally. Helping him get there is veteran bomber Skipper (Stacy Keach), whose prestigious stature is, naturally, predicated on a lie for a convenient eleventh-hour setback. Unmemorable B-list voice talent, ethnic stereotypes and the odd “tech-savvy” gag about iPads abound. Parents can zone out, kids might momentarily marvel at the fleeting bursts of globe-trotting aerial action.
‘Planes’ Movie Review (also playing in 3D)