The images shown in this post are property of Disney.
Hello, Spongey here.
It seems like whenever this is a cash cow franchise, they will do anything to keep it alive when there are no sequels to make. This sometimes will lead to…a spin off.
And sadly, that happened to Pixar’s Cars franchise. If you remember my Pixar-athon, you know I defended the Cars film as enjoyable flicks that are clearly passion projects for John Lassiter. I never felt they were cash grabs on his part.
But now I know it is a cash cow franchise, at least for Disney. Cars make tons of money off merchandise alone, and even though Pixar would never make a 3rd film after the critical failure of 2, Disney wanted to make another film in some way.
So, they green lit a direct to video spin off starring talking planes! Yeah, when this was announced I was kind of interested but I didn’t like that there now existed Direct to DVD Pixar flicks. Didn’t John himself shut down Disney’s direct to video market?
Granted, Pixar had nothing to do with this from the start. No, this is made by DisneyToon studios who did…all the DTV sequels, proving my point further, as well as the Tinkerbell films (which I plan to cover someday. Also, this shares a director with the 2nd one, and the writer wrote the first one).
No one had high hopes for this film…then Disney announced it was going to be in theaters now. This raised my optimism…and skepticism. On one hand, that means that improved on it! On the other, this decision could have been made simply because of..
MR KRABS: Money!
But either way, I kept any thoughts until it came out. Well, when it came out…the critics did not like it. With a 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, this film was largely disliked for how dull it seems to be. Heck, Ani-Mat awarded it his Seal of Garbage!
Also, Phineas and Ferb writer Alik Graft disliked it. It’s not important but when anyone working on Phineas and Ferb, which has an actress now known for Scary movie 5, dislikes your film….damn.
It did make a decent profit, but it wasn’t a huge hit like Disney expect. Though that didn’t stop them from making a sequel for release this year. So I guess this means I must take a gander at this film to see if it’s as bad as everyone says it is.
I’m open for a bigger peak at the Cars world, even if it is a cash grab. So let’s just ditch the flying puns, and see if this movie soars high or crashes. Goddammit, I just made a flying pun.
This, is Planes
The movie opens in the sky with text saying “World of Cars”. Gee, thanks guys I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out except it was in all the posters and trailers.
The film actually starts with two planes hanging out, and talking about an awesome Plane. They are joined by said awesome guy who flies around like a jackass. Then that turns out to be a dream by our hero, Dusty Crophooper.
Really, we open with a dream sequence showing what our hero wants? I’d break out the cliché count again but I’ll save it for another time. Anyway, we see that Dusty is a crop duster working for Leadbottom, voiced by Cedric the Entertainer. Dusty rambles about this flying completion, and how he wants to be more than “just a drop duster, but Leadbottom thinks he is crazy.
….Wow, that is the most cliché thing ever. The dreamer who wants to do more but can’t do how he is, and people call him crazy? That is the oldest plot in the book, especially in animation!
This wouldn’t be so bad except TURBO DID IT JUST WEEKS BEFORE THIS MOVIE DID. It wasn’t exactly fresh when Turbo did it, but this is just running it into the ground!
To make this scene even more pleasant, Leadbottom rambles about “vita-minimulch” and sprays some out, and Dusty groans. Yep, the plane version of a fart joke.
We’re not even 5 minutes and I kind of see what all the fuss is about. Oh, and Dusty is voiced by Dane Cook. Now, I like Dane cook. His standup is very funny. But his movies?
Not so much.
Anyway, we join Dusty’s fuel truck friend Chug, voiced by Brad Garret, and he’s talking to some dude, and he says this:
“Corn. It gives you gas!”
After Dusty does some flying with the help of Chug, he meets up with his female friend (/love interest, you just know it) Dottie. She does not approve of his flying, and Dusty tries to hide but Chug comes in bragging about it, only to find out Dottie is there.
You know-for kids!
“Dusty you’re not built to race. You’re built to dust crops!”
Friend who does not approve of this? Check! There’s only like one or two cliches left in my “generic kids film” checklist!
It doesn’t help that Dottie’s tirade just goes in an odd, unfunny direction, regrading what will happen if he keeps flying.
“Wow, that was…vivid and specific”
Okay, that was kind of funny.
After that, Chug says they may need help given the many dangers Dusty may face. He suggests getting help from Skipper, a washed up war hero who is now an angry man who lives near them.
Wait, War hero? There was war…in the Cars world. Okay, now I want a Cars war film with talking planes shooting at each others, complete with a Car Hitler or something. MAKE IT HAPPEN DISNEY.
Also, he no longer flies due to some crash that happened. So, he’s just a ripoff of Doc from Cars? Yay.
Despite Dusty’s doubts, they head to Skipper’s place to ask for help.
“I heard you shot down 50 planes”
‘You looking to be number 51?”
Heh, that was funny.
Skipper naturally declines (proving to be the best character so far) and we move on the next scene. Well, that was pointless.
So the next day, Dusty and the gang head to the qualifiers for this around the world race thing. Here, we meet a big famous racer named Ripslinger, voiced by Sonic the hedgehog himself, Roger Craig smith.
Gotta go fast indeed.
He’s very flashy and they boast about how cool he is. Yep, he’s the villain. To make it even more cliched, he is Dusty’s hero.
Yet another thing they did in Turbo. At least that movie had Samuel L Jackson…
Oh, and I have to comment on this part, where we meet Ripslingers Twin henchmen.
“I heard they were one plane and were separated at birth”
SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.
…So anyway, the 5 leaders in this fly test…thing will enter the Race around the globe thing. Dusty plans to go out and prove his worth. Of course when he steps up, everyone laughs at him.
“You know you’re built for seed, not speed”
Sex Jokes I could have made: 1
“He’s gonna race? With a prop that small?”
Sex Jokes I could have made: 2
Also, Ripslinger mocks him right in front of him. At least they are up front about his villainy, got to give them credit for that.
So Dusty goes in there and actually does very well for his type. Sadly, he ends up in 6th place, and does not qualify. Well, movie over!
(Sorry about the weird green thing. That’s just how my version is)
So Dusty heads home, sad. I suppose now is a good time to comment on the animation.. It”s pretty solid. The character animation is smooth, it’s bright and colorful and the flight scenes so far, as decently done.
Though it’s not really as impressive as the animation in Cars, but for what was meant to be direct to DVD flick, it’s nice.
Anyway, Chug is visited by the qualifier boss guy, Roper, voiced by Sinbad. Joy, this keeps getting better and better. Doesn’t help that his anger at the delivery truck that brought him here gives me Jingle all the way flashbacks.
So for the qualifier thing, Dusty said his name was “Strust Jetstream” so Sinbad asks for Strut and Chug has no idea what he means. One dumb routine later, Dusty shows up. So does Leadbottom to brag about his Vita-whatever in an un-funny manner.
ROPER: That old airplane needs some help, Ya’ll know that, right?
Heh, that was funny. Wait, Sinbad has one of the funnier jokes so far? Yikes.
Anyway, Sinbad tells Dusty the 5th place guy was caught with Steroids, I mean illegal fuel in his tank, so he is disqualified. Thus, Dusty is in.
So our hero does make the thing he enters, but he gets in cuz one dude was caught with a steroid stand in. That…was used in Monsters University Come on, Dreamworks, now the company this is a spin off of?! And Turbo was called a ripoff?!
Anyway, everyone is happy for Dusty but Skipper gives him a visit to warm him that this is a bad idea. He’s been watching Dusty practice, and he tells him some things that will make him suck less.
This is followed by Dusty having an Oscar moment in which he says he has been practicing for so long, and says he has flown thousands of miles, and has gone nowhere.
“I’m trying to prove that maybe…just maybe, I can do more than what I was built for”
Okay, the first attempt at genuine substance, and it almost works (Dane Cook even sells it). It’s still pretty cliché and I know nothing about Dusty except that he wants to fly, but I’ll take what I can get.
Skipper’s response? Be at his place at 0500 and don’t be late. Yep, the retired athlete is gonna train a rookie. Now we’re back to the real cliches!
The next morning, Dusty practices with the help of Skipper. It kind of goes well but after Dusty lands, Skipper notices that Dusty failed to go as high as he instructed.
“I was low on fuel”
“Do I look like I was built yesterday?”
Okay, are they built or born? Make up your mind!
“I’m afraid of heights!”
“But you’re a plane”
“I’m a crop duster”
Oh great, a forced aspect of his character that clearly exists to say there’s more “Complexities”. Skipper rightfully mocks the fact that a guy who is afraid of heights wants to fly in a race. I mean, I get what they are going for but did Dusty expect no one to notice?!
“I’ll still be low to the ground. Just high up!”
That makes no sense.
Skipper’s sidekick dude points some war dudes had trouble with heights, and went on to win races. This gets him and Chug into a discussion that turns off anyone who couldn’t care less about planes. So, everyone. Though we do get this funny line:
“Some people just have no respect for decimal points”
Anyway, Skipper is willing to work with Dusty’s phobia and just makes him fly low and fast. This leads to a short montage of Dusty training his low flying skills.
“He kicked aston martins out there!”
Again, for kids!
So with that…Dusty is ready and he heads off to do the big race. Wait, what? We’re about 25 minutes into this thing and he’s ready? We had one montage he’s off? I mean, if those 25 minutes were dedicated to him training or whatever, this would be okay.
But the first 25 minutes were just setting up the plot and having pointless scnes. He didn’t start until now and it’s race time! In most movies, the first half is the training and the 3rd act is the big race or whatever. So usually, it’s an hour in depending on the story.
Here, it’s only 25 minutes! I know I’m getting hung up on this, when I have no idea how long it will be until the race itself starts, but it still shows how much the writer cared about character development.
So Dusty flies off to New York, looking for JFK airport. Wait, JFK is John F Kenndedy. How did he exist in the Cars world? Oh god, I just imagined a JFK car. That image was wroth the price of admission.
Also, airport. That brings more logic questions that I always had with the Cars world. I mean, planes are mostly meant to take people places. So the living huge planes here are just okay with carrying heavy cars? Seems odd to me.
Also, how do cars, planes, boat etc come into existence? Who picks what kind of vehicle are they on? The whole Dusty wants to be more than he was built for, brings up questions of how the social hierarchy of this world works.
…Wait, who cares?
Dusty arrives and asks for directions to some place from a dude voiced by John Ratzenburger. He even has to appear in a Pixar spin off? Eh, still better than Super Buddies.
John tells him to look for the East Australian curr-wait, wrong movie.
Anyway, Dusty heads to the place where the racers are. Here we meet some of the racers. Such as the Stereotypical British one, voiced by John Cleese, and the Asian one, Ishani. She is a woman so Dusty is insert plane related innuendo here, for here.
“Look at that propeller”
Sex Jokes I could have made: 3
Dusty also meets Ripslinger again, who says a crop duster entering is cool. But then he launches into a joke news story in which the new racer crashes, Ripslinger wins, and spreads his ashes.
“The ratings will be through the roof!”
ADAM SANDLER: What an asshole!
See what you made me do, movie?!
Then we meet another newcomer, named El Chupacabra voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. An improvement from Space Chimps, but a step down from everything else. He’s the Mexican one who is mocked by everyone else for being crazy. Dusty is cool with him though.
“We will laugh, we will cry, we will dance! …Not with each other”
Ohai ho yay.
Then we abruptly cut to some announcer dude telling us it’s time for the big race. See, told you they are just rushing to get to the race. Also, when the announcer guy mentions Dusty, a person at some place we cut to has this comment:
“A crop duster? Well, he’s gonna die”
That was funny.
Oh, and El Chupacabra is horny for this Canadian chick voiced by Julia Louis Dreyfus. We have the British one, the Mexican one, the Indian, and the Canadian one. It’s a high flying stereotypical hoe-down!
So at the 33 minute mark, the race officially starts. This is Day 1 and the first leg takes them to the Iceland, and Dusty arrives last. Wait, they just skipped through leg 1? Well, i guess the reason the race started early was so even more time can be deciated to this like, many days long race.
It almost makes sense, but did the race need to be this long? If you are gonna skip through the boring parts now, that just means there was more time for character development!
So at the rest stop, El Chupacbra hits on the French-Candian chick again. Also, he is a snow-plow , so she says-
“Why don’t you go plow yourself?”
Okay, this is rivaling Floodlight for creepy innuendo in a kid’;s movie. ..Okay, it’s not THAT bad but still!
Then we move on to leg 2, which goes to Germany. Bullddog, the britsh guy guys in some trouble but Dusty actually helps him out and saves his life. Dusty is dead last again, but he has clearly gained Bulldog’s respect.
“Are you crying?”
“I don’t cry, I’m british”
I did the Phineas and Ferb reference last time, so I’ll just admit that was funny. Also, that bit was a nice touch in terms of Dusty’s character but it’s too little too late.
Anyway, after some jokes at the expense of Bavarians, Dusty meets his only fan, Franz, who is one of only 6 flying cars ever built. Really. All he does is convince Dusty to loose his sprayer thing so he can race faster.
With that, it’s on to leg 3. where Dusty actually does a lot better and even wins the leg. Ripslinger is not pleased, though his henchman are.
“It’s a really compelling underdog story”
Without the compelling part.
“It’s like Rocky!”
…First a JFK car, now i imagined a Stallone car. This is the best movie ever.
“Or old yeller!”
“That’s not an underdog story”
‘There’s a dog in it”
…Dogs. How can dogs exist-nevermind.
“They shot old Yeller at the end, you twit”
….Legit Guns exist in this world now? Also, dark joke ftw!
After some filler with Dusty the next day, El Chupacabra hits on the chick again and he is rejected again. Speaking of horny planes, the Indian shows up again to congratulate Dusty. Also, we find out recycling is the Cars’ version of reincarnation.
They then take part in a romantic flight. By the way, this stop is in India so of course we need shots of the Taj Mahal in there. She gives him some advice on how to fly low during the next lag around the Hymalas, by flying near some railroad tracks.
And since they teased living Trains, that must be the next movie. Thus, Planes, Trains and Automobiles!
And that’s it for that scene. It only existed for forced exposition. Yay. So we head on to leg 4 as he takes her advice. I said earlier the flying scenes thus far were good, but the ones we’ve had since are still fairly solid.
The movie clearly cares about the race scenes and they are nicely handled and come close to saving the film. Too bad I don’t care about the story or characters.
Anyway, Dusty forgets trains are on tracks and almost hits one, but for the like 3rd time, he avoids death. Even better, he arrives at Nepal in first place.
A bit later, Dusty talks to the Indian chick but notices that her propeller is a kind made for Ripslingers team. Given the joke earlier, i think this is the first time a pervvy joke is important to the plot.
“You set me up!”
Oh, and oh god that cliche. The whole point of her was for this crap?
“You almost killed me out there”
‘I thought you would just turn around”
So Ripslingers plan to make Dusty almost die just made him win cuz he was using an easier route. Who knew a Complete Monster could be so STUPID?
Either way, Dusty is winning so it’s time for a getting famous montage! This mostly has cars andPplanes watching a …Dusty meme video …on Flewtube…on a “skypad’. First off, the meme video thing was done in Turbo too. Did Shia Labeouf write this?
THIS HAS BEEN YOUR TOPICAL JOKE OF THE WEEK.
2nd, PRODUCT PLACEMENT?!11
Also, Ripslingers henchman are watching this on an iPad and Ripslinger crushes it.
“That was my skypad”
“A new one’s coming out in 2 weeks”
Okay, that was the best joke so far.
But of course we must follow that up that night with more of El Chupacabra’s quest for love. He tries to serenade her with some music. It doesn’t work. Dusty helps out by arranging some actual romantic music and candles and stuff.
Now El Chup has moves, I’ll give him that. It works this time…..too well. The next day we see Rochelle, the french chick, is all clingy and stuff. Don’t care.
Now it’s on to leg 6 in which Dusty again gets in trouble, this time thanks to Ripslinger. His henchmen destroy his antenna , so ends up lost in restricted airspace. .
He is found by two dudes, voiced by Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards. Yep, an obvious Top gun reference. …Eh, it’s kind of cute.
They take him to some place so he can refuel. It turns out this is the place where Skipper’s squadron was stationed. Dusty looks at the “Jolly Wrenches” hall of fame and finds out Skipper only had one mission, which contradicts his earlier statement about many missions.
You know, Skipper, as cliche as he is, is the only cool character cuz he’s tough, cool and takes no shit. Now he’s close to an okay story bit!
We cut back to home, as Chug mentions underwear. ….But cars…clothes…i uh…WHAT?!
…Anyway, Dusty calls up Skipper and asks what is up with the one mission. He ends up confirming that he only had one mission, but the Jolly Wrenches tell Dusty he has to go out cuz there is a storm coming.
As he heads out, we cut to the rest stop in Mexico, as Dusty has already been pronounced dead. Yeah, don’t go checking or anything. Just trust Ripslinger the jackass. El Chupacbura overhears him gloating (maybe gloating about your plans in plain sight was a bad idea) and calls him out.
The Indian chick also turns on Ripslinger so she can have a point. Anyway, Dusty is found and taken to Mexico but he has been damaged in the storm.
“Two broken wing ribs..”
Oh good, i can leav-oh you meant Dusty’s carrrer, not the movie. Drat.
Skipper has a minute alone with Dusty to explain the “one mission” thing. This leads into a war flashback, of all things. He and his squadron were on their first mission, fighting “enemy planes” out in the pacific. But his squadron of trainees were….killed on their first mission. Skipper was the only survivor, but torn by his guilt, he never trained another plane or flew again.
Damn that is….dark. I mean, this is pretty cliché but for a kid’s movie, it’s kind of dark to actually have something like this. It’s even pulled off well as we see this happen and how heavy this was for Skipper. The whole tone is done right and it’s the only time in the movie so far that I felt something for anyone.
So yeah, Skipper is the only character with any hint of complexities. HOWEVER, I can’t say this saves the movie cuz…lets be honest, we’ve seen this plot thread before in and it’s not done any better hear.
But I still applaud them for trying something dark. Plus, it’s close to my war movie request from earlier!
Naturally, Dusty is demoralized over this. Now he goes to angst about how he never should have tried to fly and all that. Dottie gets his spirits up by saying that Skipper was right Dusty and what he could do.
That’s cool and all but Dusty is kind of broken and can’t fly. But oh wait, all his friends donate parts for him! Heck, the Indian chick even gives him her propeller. Uh, does this count as cross dressing in the cars world?
Anyway, Dusty is fixed up in a matter of hours and is well enough to take part in the 7th and final leg, that goes back to New York. The ever so determined Ripslinger tries to take out Dusty once they are out of camera range.
But then Skipper, having gotten over his guilty, shows up to help Dusty. Not sure if it’s legal in this race, but whatever. They thwart Ripslinger’s henchman so that’s the end of them. I guess. So now it’s just Dusty vs Ripslinger cuz I guess the other racers just vanished cuz they aren’t important.
However, Dusty starts losing power and he is forced to ride the jetstream, which means he must conquer his fear of heights. Yeah, you forgot about that useless plot point, didn’t ya?
After that, Dusty ends up neck and neck with Ripslinger, and they are right at the finish line. However, Ripslinger slows down a tad so the folks in the stands can take his picture. This allows Dusty to win.
A villain outdone by his own stupidity is not a very smart villain, you know.
Anyway, there was pretty much no suspense there but either way, Dusty wins. So everyone congratulates Dusty for proving you can do more than what you will built for. Also, Skipper shows up to thank Dusty cuz in these types of story, the mentor guy will always have far more development than our actual lead who remains personality-less. I just saw it in Cloud 9, now I see it here.
So with that, Dusty is an honorary member of the Jolly Wrenches and Skipper even joins back in, as they are inducted back at their base. Which is called the USS Flysienhower. …So does JFK have a punny name, too?
Having learned a big lesson, Dusty and Skipper take off to the skies and….the movie ends. Yep, roll credits. The film just kind of…stops. Dusty didn’t hook up with the Indian chick, so real ending to El Chupacabra’s story except he’s kind of with her, and no other character got send offs other than the mains.
A true sign of a weak picture, when I feel like nothing mattered. Oh, and took a look at this message at the very end of the credits:
….Okay, who the hell does he think he is, James Bond?
Dusty Crophopper will return is…LET AND LET FLY.
Dusty Crophopper will return in…FLY ANOTHER DAY.
Dusty Crophopper will return in… TOMORROW NEVER FLIES.
Okay, I’ll stop. (Special Agent Oso would be proud). But it shows how much they care about artistic integrity when they have a cash grab sequel flat out teased in the cash grab original.
Well, at least it’s over.
Everyone who bitched about Cars 2 is writing apology letters to John Lasseter right now, cuz this makes that look like Up in comparison.
I can’t say it’s AWFUL or even THAT bad, but it’s fairly mediocre. The biggest problem is the story itself. It’s just the typical underdog sports story only with Planes. But Turbo showed you can rise above a generic story with good humor so why didn’t Planes do it?
They really did nothing to make it different and even worse, they got the whole structure wrong. Instead of having Dusty train most of the time, thus giving us insight about his character, they just cut to the big race and waste a good setting.
Now, the 2nd half did show me that taking place during the race could have worked but it’s still really rushed. While I have to give them credit for trying to give extra dimension to Dusty and Skipper near the end (which puts it above some other would be direct to Dvd pictures) but it still makes me wish I was watching Turbo or Cars 2./
On top of that, they fit a bunch of pointless subplots that add to nothing. The characters are all one dimensional, boring and in some cases, a tad annoying. Dottie, Chug, and others end up having no point and end up feeling wasted in the end.
The villain is pretty cliché though to be fair, the lengths he goes to take down a dumb crop duster makes him kind of enjoyable in places. That isn’t enough to save his character, though. Dusty is almost likable but he ends up being flat and generic, with Dane Cook being really miscast.
The only passable character is Skipper, who is pretty enjoyable with his tough, take no shit attitude, and his almost dramatic backstory. He almost works but he can’t get past the rest of the mediocre story. No one is too annoying or unlikable but no one stood out either.
On the bright side, the animation is pretty decent for what was meant to be a direct to DVD flick. The flight scenes are somewhat fun and at times the film is kind of tolerable during those parts. Also, the humor is not TOO painful, to be honest. There are only a few funny bits but only some parts annoyed me.
But that may be a strike against the film. It’s not Mars Needs Moms dull, or Escape From Planet earth annoying, but it also takes no chances become even Turbo passable. It isn’t painful enough for me to hate, but they don’t try enough to make it good.
In some ways, that is worse than it being awful, as it shows they didn’t even try. Though some parts show effort, at least. Overall, while I was watching it, it didn’t hurt me too much but it doesn’t make up for the badly told story and generic characters.
My recommendation? Watch Cars, Cars 2, Turbo, or hell, just go buy the toys. They have to be far more rewarding than this…mediocre flick. All I have to say is….the sequel better be an improvement.
Next time, we’ll look at a far more interesting flick…that you’ve never heard of.