Dave White
Planes Review

Dave's Rating:


I'm not a crop duster, I'm a dancer.

Nomi Malone dreamed of being a dancer instead of a stripper. So she went to auditions and sabotaged other girls and did "it" with the boss and stomped a guy with her high heels and pushed Cristal down the stairs and then HER DREAM CAME TRUE. Having that vision of self-actualization, working hard and believing in yourself pays off; these are the lessons we learn from cinema.

And these lessons begin in childhood with analogous films like... well, like every family movie ever made. Or at least it seems that way right about now. Don't stop me if you've heard this one before. Because you have heard this one before. The specifics are irrelevant, only that someone or something -- a talking baseball, an anthropomorphic snail that wants to be a race car, a bee that sounds like Jerry Seinfeld -- acquires an outsized dream, embarks on a quest to make the dream come to pass, discovers the self-belief and skill required to accomplish the dream, hurts someone else's dream along the way, learns from that and practices essential self-forgiveness before finally achieving success as a Las Vegas showgirl, race car/snail, World Series home run ball or libertarian bee. In this iteration it's a crop duster named Dusty with the voice of Dane Cook. He wants to race, too, just like the snail. But unlike the snail he's going to do the work required instead of doping up on nitrous oxide.

After several long training moments, Dusty enters an around-the-world plane race against sleeker, more aerodynamic machines. He learns about camaraderie and teamwork, brand-building and networking, cruelty and the love between a boy-plane and a girl-plane. The rest is flying sequences, a detour into childhood disillusion and a warning about the dangers of idol worship, some gentle kid-level visual jokes and an ending anyone over the age of five will know is coming before the first bite of popcorn.

It's from Pixar's not-Pixar right arm Disney and was originally intended to be a direct-to-DVD expansion of the Cars merchandising empire. This is easy to spot. It's flatter, employs more primary colors and shapes to keep little ones from getting up and running around the theater and has invested somewhat-less-than-average amounts of energy into developing a witty, complex narrative that adults might also find appealing. It may live in the world of Cars but it's less than Cars on every front. And the only upside to that fact is that it's also much less concerned with pretending it's got something important to show you. So here's an idea: treat it like it what it was going to be in the first place and save it for the Blu-Ray player. The kids'll dig it while you watch Showgirls on your phone.


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