If you liked Pixar's “Cars,” you will like Disney's “Planes,” because “Planes” is “Cars” with wings.
Virtually everything is interchangeable. Instead of Radiator Springs, we have Propwash. This time it’s not a race on the ground, it’s a race in the air. The wise old reclusive mentor vehicle this time isn’t a vintage Hudson police car with the voice of Paul Newman, it’s a vintage World War II fighter plane, Skipper, with the voice of Stacey Keach.
And the plug-ins continue.
But even though it’s a fill-in-the-blank movie doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun and worth seeing.
The star of this adventure is Dusty Crophopper, with the voice of Dane Cook. You’ve probably guessed by his name that Dusty’s job is crop dusting, but he dreams of participating in a legendary around-the-world race with the finest planes from each country.
With a little help from Dottie, a little forklift mechanic who sounds a lot like Teri Hatcher, and the bumbling encouragement of a tanker truck named Chug (Brad Garrett), who is the plug-in for Tow Mater in the "Cars" film, our little hero is tuned up and ready to go.
Just one problem. We find out that he’s afraid of heights. This is where the wise counsel and tough love coaching of Skipper comes in.
As the race takes us to exotic locales around the planet, “Planes” introduces us to Dusty’s fellow racers, including the femme fatale, Ishani, a Pan Asia Champion from India voiced by Priyanka Chopra. There’s John Cleese providing voice for the British de Havilland Comet.
Of course, we have to have a bad guy, and that role is supplied by Ripslinger. He’s a custom carbon fiber job voiced by Roger Craig Smith, who along with his henchmen employs every dirty trick in the book.
Even Val Kilmer steps to the microphone to give voice to fellow racer Echo, a Boeing Super Hornet.
But my favorite plane is El Chup (Carlos Alazraqui), a Gee Bee Model R representing Mexico. He’s decked out like Nacho Libre and passionately in love with the French Canadian entry, Rochelle, voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I love these guys and their romance is classic.
What can I say? It’s cute, not fabulous.
Even though filmmakers are plugging in and working on a tight template, there’s still a lot of creativity going on here. The way the planes come to life and exude personality is simply charming and what’s going on in the background of the scenes almost requires a second viewing so nothing is missed.
The whole family will enjoy Disney’s “Planes." I’m giving the movie 3 stars.
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