The new Disney animated film “Planes”—which takes place in the world of “Cars,” which as you remember was made by Pixar, but Pixar is not involved in this new film. Make sense? --was originally going to go straight to dvd but Disney was so impressed with some of the completed sequences they decided to release it theatrically. I think I can guess a few of those sequences they were impressed with but that doesn’t change the fact that “Planes” (directed by “Simpsons” director Klay Hall) still feels like direct-to-video fare. The story is paint-by-the-numbers and the characters are paper-thin. On a whole the movie is astonishingly average. No surprises, hardly any thrills and superfluous 3D. It’s not bad by any means but it doesn’t even attempt greatness, or even goodness for that matter.
The story is essentially the inverse of the “Cars” plot. Instead of a cocky young racer from the big city who has to slow down and learn how to race again in a small nowhere town, we have Dusty (Dane Cook) a scrappy little Crop Duster from a nowhere town. Dusty aspires to be a racing plane one day but he’s not built for racing and he’s afraid of heights. There are supporting characters but as I said in the previous paragraph they’re so paper thin that I don’t even have the energy to describe them. Just think of the supporting characters in “Cars” with slight differences. At 92 minutes “Planes” is brief, it wastes no time getting started and it never meanders off course. The humor consists mainly of puns associated with the fact that this is a world of vehicles (“a vehicle interest story” a car reporter says at one point) some of which are worth a chuckle. And the animation is decent but doesn’t even come close to the immense detail seen in “Cars.”