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Film Review: 'Planes'

Opened: 16 August 2013 (UK) 
Featuring the voices of:  Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Grey DeLisle, Rob Paulsen, David Croft, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese
Director: Klay Hall
Producer: Walt Disney Studios

Disney know a good product when they see one. Just like Toy Story 2 which was initially intended as a direct to video release, but impressed Disney executives and went on to become a major theatrical release, and for all intents and purposes, a modern day classic, Planes too was meant to go directly to video. But Disney, impressed by the initial shots and portions of the film gave it a theatrical release and a wise move it was too. I caught Planes at a press screening a few weeks back and was expecting an underdog story abounding with cliches. Instead what I witnessed was a charming animated film, with its heart in the right place and an engaging plot that hits almost all the right notes.

Planes unexpectedly turns out to be charming little film

The film tells the story of Dusty, a small town crop dusting plane, who dreams big and hopes to participate in an around the world air race, with some of the fastest, sturdiest and well built planes. There are a few hitches though. He isn't built for racing and has a fear of heights which means he refuses to fly higher than a thousand feet.

Both Dusty and his friends are in for a surprise though, when Dusty narrowly qualifies for the big air racing championship and his wits are put to the test, when much to the surprise of the reigning planes, the underdog begins to make a mark in the contest and starts racing his way to the top. Along the way, Dusty encounters news friends and embarks on both a personal journey of self discovery and one across the world he had never even dreamed of. 

Carlos Alazraqui as El Chupacabra is hilarious

Make no mistake. Planes is essentially a kids film and the way in which the plot culminates is fairly predictable at the very onset, but director Klay Hall, despite these shortcomings, manages to infuse a certain freshness to the film which is likely to keep audiences engaged right through till the end. The journeys to Nepal and India, particularly stand out mainly because they happen to be turning plot points and visually too are incredibly well done. 

The film scores with its casting too. Dane Cook, a stand up comedian, but a relative unknown in Hollywood is perfect as Dusty and gets the nuances of the character just right. The supporting cast too whether its John Cleese as a stereotypical English, albeit hilarious British plane or Alazraqui as a rib tickling, flirtatious South American plane all manage to hit the right notes. And yes our very own 'desi girl' Priyanka Chopra does well too in her first animated outing as a Pan-Asian champion plane from India, and Dusty's romantic interest. Chopra has an integral part to play and isn't just reduced to a prop, which is usually the norm when it comes to Hollywood utilising B-Town folk in their films (Anil Kapoor in MI4 being a prime example).

Priyanka Chopra makes her debut into animation as Ishani

As always, with Pixar behind the scenes as producers, technically the film is expectedly sound with flawless 3D and impressive CGI.

Overall Planes really surprised me. It has several 'LOL' moments that will be loved by kids and undoubtedly make the grown up smirk, and there are quite a few heartfelt sequences which make this more than just your average animated fare. I'm going with three stars for this one. It's predictable yes, but a decent enough popcorn fare that deserves at least a single viewing so hop on and grab a seat to one of the more decent films of this summer – you might be surprised. I know I was.

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