Review: Planes

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Disney's PlanesIt has been seven years since the release of Pixar's still-beloved movie Cars and two since the critical flop of sequel Cars 2. The question to be answered this weekend is "Will Disney's Planes fly?" Audiences will have to decide for themselves, but my opinion is that the animated film soars while not quite reaching the lofty heights of Cars. Unfortunately, since Planes is under the umbrella of Disney and not Pixar, no animated short precedes the feature, and I did not spy a cameo from the Pizza Planet truck.

With a story in many ways similar to Dreamworks' Turbo, Planes features some topsy-turvy casting choices. Comedian Dane Cook voices the lead character while more recognizable talents like Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Sinbad and Val Kilmer are, ahem, waiting in the wings. (Kilmer and Top Gun co-star Anthony Edwards are cast as a pair of F/A-18F Super Hornets.)

While the story of an underdog farmboy living his dream and making it big is instantly recognizable to adults, the much younger target audience should find the plot engaging. There are plenty of touches to keep the adults interested as well. The multinational cast of characters integrates both planes and cars imbuing them with human personalities that range from clever to completely hilarious. In particular, the split personality of a German Taylor Aerocar that alternates when it converts from car to plane was a delightful touch.

The planes are all based on real-life models, making the movie an animated virtual airshow, and the characters spout aeronautical terminology like "lift," "thrust," "ailerons" and "velocity" that younger viewers may not understand, but which could inspire children to learn more about aircraft in general. Planes also draws inspiration from the VF-17 Jolly Rogers, the U.S. Navy's most successful World War II flight squadron. The presence of the Navy in the film makes me hope we will one day see a Boats set in the same world.