The fine people at Disney usually have a good handle on their films, which is why the occasional slip-up- like Planes or last year’s Cars 2 makes me more sad of its existence than angry at how bad it is.
Planes, an animated film taking place in the Cars universe, plays like an undemanding direct-to-DVD time filler. It’s funny that Planes comes out on DVD/Blu-ray a week after Blockbuster announced their final closings because this is exactly the movie parents would pick up to plop their children in front of a TV for 90 minutes.
If Planes had gone straight to DVD (or straight to VOD), I don’t think my reaction to it wouldn’t have been so thundering. This is directly aimed at the youngest children who are pleased by colourful talking vehicles with big eyes.
What acts as a major turn off, however, is how Disney is treating a film that deserves far less recognition and needed to fade into every other mindless kids movie. It’s because this is a film that’s been entirely conceived to simply achieve material and financial goals.
By throwing a ton of different characters at the audience that lack any semblance of personality, Planes has a commercial vibe to it. It isn’t interested in its underdog tale about a crop duster who has big dreams of racing. The film has more focus on selling toys before Christmas comes and goes.
It has the same intentions as Cars 2. The difference between the two sell outs is that Planes is far less convoluted and irritating. Planes also has a more tolerable vocal cast with Dane Cook doing what he needs to do in order to capture the dreamer aspects of crop duster Rusty and Brad Garrett lends his amusing monotones to comic relief Chug.
Planes strips and dumbs itself down too much – even if its aimed towards the youngest of children. It doesn’t do a good job with covering up why it really exists. At least Cars 2 tried to distract audiences with flashy action set pieces.
I watched Planes in traditional 2D and couldn’t help but notice the abundance of shots that sit the viewer in the driver’s seat. A few of these are fine, but director Klay Hall supplies too many, along with heaving amounts of foreground activity and smokey effects. It suggests that not only is Planes trying to advertise merchandise, but it’s also trying to abuse 3D and its surcharge that theatre goers are forced to shell out.
After a while, the humbleness that some could pull out of Planes is no longer there. There’s an ample amount of zooming in and out of scenery as Dusty and competing aviation race across the globe – giving Hall and his animators plenty of dated stereotypes to overexpose. There’s a romance between a French Canadian plane and a Mexican plane that’s an absolute mind numbing bore. Although a mariachi cover of “Love Machine” shouldn’t be as oddly catchy as it is.
Planes is going to make very young kids happy – especially if they’re fans of Pixar’s Cars series. It’s got enough countless montages of fast planes set to energetic rock music to brainwash your kid. This is essentially The Transformers: The Movie for a modern generation. And, hopefully, when they grow up, they’ll realize just how silly all of this really is – just as we did.
On that note though, while I watched Planes and reminisced of times where Disney didn’t have to stoop this low to bring in cash, Orsen Wells’ disdain towards his role as Unicron in The Transformers: The Movie rang in my head like a clock tower’s chimes. Regarding his role, he’s been quoted as saying Unicron is “a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys”. There’s a mantra that’s more than appropriate with this blatant cash in that was driven by none other than dollar sign lit eyes.