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Review: Planes doesn't really take off

August 23, 2013 11:22 IST

A still from PlanesPlanes has its share of comic moments but they are too few and far between to keep the audience engaged, writes Paloma Sharma.

A spinoff of Disney’s Cars franchise, Planes looks like someone took Lightening McQueen and put a pair of wings on him.

Predictably, Planes is aimed at a younger audience and is appropriate enough for them with its underdog theme and simple black-and-white morality. However, it is almost as if director Klay Hall assumes that just because his target audience is just learning to read and write, they cannot read the writing on the wall – Planes is a ruminated repetition and not much else.

The premise of Disney and director Klay Halls' Planes is quite an interesting one -- Dusty Crophopper, a crop duster plane dreams of competing in an elite aerial race that will take the participants around the world and the only thing that keeps him from achieving this, is his fear of heights.

Voiced by Dane Cook, Dusty Crop duster works on a corn farm and dreams higher than he can fly, mainly due to his acrophobia.

In his spare time, Dusty practices some pretty neat tricks but the only one who supports his dreams is his friend Chug (Brad Gerrett), the fuel truck.

Despite all the skepticism from his forklift friend and mechanic, Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and his boss Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer), not only does Dusty enter the qualifiers for the Wings Across the World race but he also manages to qualify due to one of the other planes being debarred from the competition over the use of illegal fuel enhancers.

Although Dusty has taken a first successful step towards his dream, he is mocked by the audience and some of the fellow participants for being a crop duster plane. However, Dusty resolves to stay in the competition and meets Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) along the way, eventually (unsurprisingly) falling in love with her.

But Dusty’s strife is far from over. As he begins to rise in the race, he manages to catch the attention of the evil 3-time champion Ripslinger’s (Roger Craig Smith) who is desperate to make history with a fourth straight win. Ripslinger will do anything to win - even make sure that Dusty can never fly again.

While Planes characters are more engaging than those of Cars, the stark parallels between the story lines of the two films are not something one can ignore, unlike the background score.

But for AR Rahman’s Tere Bina from Guru, the background music isn’t especially noteworthy. But that’s not the worst of it, not nearly.

Planes centres around a host of characters, of various nationalities and the thread that binds them all together is the way that they are grossly stereotyped.

You have the intelligent, overly competitive Indian, the pushy, romantic Mexican, the cold French-Canadian and the British plane with a stiff upper lip...err... propeller.

Although the 'everybody has a chance' and 'you can achieve your dreams' are some of the important messages that Planes attempts to impart, keeping in mind that this is a film for children, perhaps Disney would like to reflect on how these stereotypes will end up shaping the point of view of tomorrow's leaders.

Planes works for young audiences and parents too because it has none of the raunchy comedy or unnecessarily adult overtones that have apparently become alright to display to young children (Rowdy Rathore and Singham were awarded a 'U' certificate, remember?). But those are simply other films' vices, not Planes own virtues.

Disney disappoints from graphics all the way down to originality - and that's coming from a die-hard Disney fan. With unforgettable films that became an indispensable part of our childhoods (The Lion King, Lilo and Stitch, Toy Story and Atlantis to name a few), it is almost unthinkable that Disney would choose to release Planes in theatres. It makes one think that the original decision of making it a direct-to-video movie was a better idea.

The logic behind having this film in a 3D format escapes me, as does the logic behind having Priyanka Chopra voice the Indian plane, Ishani, if even Taj Mahal cannot be pronounced without the American Twang.

Planes does have its fair share of comic moments and some of the dialogues are especially witty but how far will that take it? Though propped up on the strong, experienced wings of Disney, one is left to wonder if Planes would have enough strength of its own to successfully take off.

Rediff Rating:

Paloma Sharma in Mumbai