Inhabiting the same would-be quirky, talking-vehicle world as the Cars films, Disney’s animated comedy adventure Planes is a misfiring spin-off that fails to get off the ground. (Tellingly, Pixar bailed as Disney’s co-pilot after the Cars sequel and the project was conceived as a straight-to-DVD venture before getting the green light for theatrical take-off).
The animation is bland and so is the hero, Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook), a low-flying crop-dusting plane from America’s Midwest with dreams of becoming a high-speed air ace. All too predictably, the plucky underdog overcomes the odds to compete in a round-the-world air race against a bunch of national stereotypes, including John Cleese’s bluff British plane, Bulldog (‘I don’t cry. I’m British’) and smooth-talking Mexican plane El Chupacabra, who has the mask and cape of a freestyle-wrestling luchador.
El Chu raises the odd smile with his courtship of French-Canadian racer Rochelle (Julia Dreyfuss); and it’s mildly diverting to spot the voices of Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards as a pair of fighter jets, a nifty nod to their roles in Top Gun.
The globe-hopping story may keep young viewers diverted, but with the destination so clearly mapped out from the start, grown-ups will find the film something of a long haul.
In cinemas from Friday 16th August.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.