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IN SHORT: Fathers take your sons . . .. [Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. 92 minutes]
]In a world.... without jet engines, where cars and planes have anthropomorphic capabilities and we, human viewers all, can watch each machine demonstrate what we call "personalities" and, in doing so, allow each of us to sympathize and empathize and whatever else-athize to enjoy yet another film about the little guy with big dreams who sets out to . . .
Oh, enough pretentiousness. The first thing a father tells a son is to dream big. Shoot for the moon. That kind of stuff . Our star is Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook), a small plane; a crop duster who can't climb higher than a thousand feet (hint: the reason is a plot twist!) and can't possibly keep up with the high powered props that fly high overhead. Day after day Dusty does his work. Day after day he dreams of being one of the "big guys"
Then come word of a Round-The-World air race. Dusty has a long road to travel, beginning with a qualifying round that has the little plane zooming and sputtering and sputtering some more.
Adults know we're not going to give away plot twists that will be as big as mountains to five or six year old kidlets. Adults also know that Dusty, somehow, will make it to the big race and, well, you know, anything can happen in the Big Race! To get there, Dusty needs a coach. Of all the planes in his local hanger, the only plane that is "Coach" worthy is a grumpy ex-Navy plane called Skipper (Stacy Keach). We give props to the writing team for not using words like "war" or "soldier" or "fight" in their screenplay. Disney's Planes is aimed at the smallest kidlets. Parents will know when their kids cross the line from "baby" stories to "big boy" stories . . . if you've got a little girl who is in to airplanes, add an appropriate "big girl" to the list.
As Dusty rises in the ranks of contenders, the story is narrated by this universe's television stars Brent Mustangburger (Brent Musburger) and filled with colorful characters that serve as a child's first tour of the world : a German mini-car (Oliver Kalkofe) zips around with race information. For those youngest of ladies, there is a romantic subplot: Julia Louis-Dreyfus lends her French accented voice to Rochelle, a cute pink plane that has caught the eye of El Chupacabra, (Carlos Alazraqui) whose Spanish accent fulfills old 1940s stereotypes. Kids won't care. Adults should recognize Monty Python's John Cleese, as a British Bulldog of course
And if I've missed a country, any adult who finds themself complaining about accents and stereotypes is barking up the wrong tree.
The rest of the cast is filled with familiar television voices: Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher,Priyanka Chopra, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias and, while technically this is a Disneytoon and not directly generated by Disney partner Pixar, the latter company's good luck voice -- John Ratzenberger -- is in the cast. Why take chances?
Cranky's filling space. The kidlets in our family are far past the magic age of six that Disney's Planes targets so well. Those kids will want to grab any of the dozens of downloads we've got available for their devices. Parents will know where their kids sit on the "big boy" fence.
It's hard for us to pretend to be six. Then again, Cranky is a 'toonhead. Disney's Planes story is solid. It should work for our conception of what a six year old should like (depending on how polluted said kidlet's mind is by handheld video games, whatever this generations device is called.
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