Planes – Crop dusting plane, ‘Dusty Crophopper’ dreams of leaving his dull, predictable life for one of racing and adventure. Despite the objections of everyone around him – apart from trusty friend, Chug – he convinces war veteran, Skipper, to train him so he can compete for a place in the famous ‘Wings Across The Globe’ race. After securing his place, he sets off to join the other racers but with a fear of heights, lack of experience and other racers trying to sabotage him, he may be out of his depth; will his determination and integrity be enough to see him to the finish line?
Planes (2013) – Director: Klay Hall
Running Length: 91 mins
Starring: Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Carlos Alazraqui
Genre: Animated, Action/Adventure, Sports
After the huge success of ‘Cars’, Pixar were keen to replicate what they had done before but, with the less well-received ‘Cars 2’, ‘Planes’ was released as a very similar but different take on the living-vehicle premise. Seemingly taking place in the same universe as ‘Cars’ (although there is a theory that all Pixar movies take place in the same universe!), the focus is firmly on the various planes and their vehicular friends.
Our hero ‘Dusty Crophopper’ (a name that couldn’t have taken more than a few seconds to come up with), has the usual dreams of greatness and the desire to change his destiny. What follows is predictable kids’ film fare but it is done with plenty of flair, good humour and likeable characters. Dusty’s integrity surprises his fellow racers and after a few instances that prove the strength of his character many of them change this perception to one of respect and friendship. This additional level of character depth keeps the movie from getting stale with the typical ‘fish out of water’ plotline. The stock character of ‘Skipper’, the war vet who’s bravado-filled past may not be as awe-inspiring as he makes out, is also given more depth with a devastatingly poignant scene (which is made all the more touching for adults by its potentially real-life possibility) that explains exactly what happened so many years ago.
‘Planes’ may not be ground-breaking and its hurry to tell the story hampers the feel of the passage of time but it is a very good movie with lots of excellent touches that audiences have come to expect of Pixar. Ultimately, kids (most likely boys) will love a story about talking planes and adults will enjoy the extra, unnecessary but wonderful detail.
IS ‘PLANES’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Dusty and Chug watch videos of planes crashing. These are mostly mild with minor damage being inflicted but a short while later, the camera faces the two characters from behind the TV, there is the sound of a crash, a weak voice says ‘I’m ok’ before a large explosion is heard which is accompanied by a bright flash coming from the screen, causing the characters watching to wince and the narrator of the show says ‘that’s gotta hurt!’.
A character has a reputation for being tough. Before they are introduced to the story, another character tells a friend that ‘He shot down fifty planes’ and he was a part of a group who were ‘ruthless killers who showed no mercy’.
Dusty struggles to gain any respect from the other competitors. When he arrives to compete in his first race, he is mocked and jeered at; this disdain continues for much of the movie and while Dusty strives to gain the respect of those he looks up to, it never causes him to lose faith in himself.
A character is told that although he didn’t initially get through to the finals of a race, a competitor that did has been disqualified. He is informed that a ‘fuel additive’ was found in his tank; another character cheerfully and knowingly says that this substance ‘blur(s) your vision and slur(s) your speech.’ The first character firmly says that this substance is ‘illegal’ causing the other to quickly agree and become a little sheepish.
A character is told that in order to increase their speed, they need to either increase their power or decrease drag. A picture of the plane in question is put on an easel and when saying ‘decrease drag’, another character rips of the bottom part of the picture which is the underside of their body (a possible mild implication of castration). The character balks at this and urgently says ‘increase power!’
A car speaks to Dusty and opens its wings to show that it is a flying car. Once the wings open, the car speaks more confidently and with a different voice and it becomes apparent that they have Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is unexpected and one understandably confused character says that they need to get their ‘head gasket checked’. There is nothing sinister about this character and they are not dealt with in an insensitive manner.
A character is forced to fly through a tunnel. Once inside, a train is seen to be coming in the opposite direction. They speed up to avoid the train but they reach the exit at the same time. The screen goes blank and there is no sound for a few seconds before the plane is seen flying through the air silently. They land occupied by several monks and, as the place is so peaceful, they gasp and say ‘I’m dead’.
A male character relentlessly pursues a female plane who shows no interest in them. This is quite mild in tone and never becomes disrespectful. In order to win her heart, he serenades with a song with the lyrics ‘I’m just a love machine’. This phrase is repeated over and over but the song itself is not sexual and is intended to be romantic.
Because of his fear of heights, Dusty has to fly low and, when flying over an ocean during a storm, they are hit numerous times by large waves. They struggle to gain control of the situation, repeatedly going below the waves and gasping for breath when resurfacing. At one point, they go under the water and sink, unable to get to the surface. However after a couple of seconds they are rescued and are fine.
In a flashback, several characters in a squadron of rookie fighter planes want to fire upon an enemy vessel. Their leader tells them ‘no’ but they are so enthusiastic, saying ‘it’ll be a turkey shoot’ that the leader relents and agrees. However once they go below the clouds, they discovers many more vessels that fire mercilessly on the squadron. With the soundtrack of haunting music, several of these planes are seen to be hit by artillery, burst into flames and crash into the ocean. One is retrieved from the water, battered and burnt but alive, this character’s narration says ‘my whole squadron’, strongly indicating that all but him were killed.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘PLANES’ FOR KIDS?
The plot may be predictable and a little rushed but ‘Planes’ makes up for any short-comings with character depth, colourful backdrops and good-natured comedy. Although there is the occasional scene with a more adult tone, ‘Planes’ should be suitable for kids of all ages.
- Violence: 1/5 (the war scene could be upsetting for kids who understand the nature of what is happening)
- Emotional Distress: 1/5 (the war scene is quite upsetting and haunting)
- Fear Factor: 1/5 (Dusty is afraid of heights and when he flies too high, he looks down and the ground appears to fall away. He swoons and drop from the sky, however he is control and are not in danger of crashing. Accidentally landing on the wrong runway, a character doesn’t realise that they are being approached by a much larger plane, this looms over them and, just in time they realise and narrowly avoid a crash)
- Sexual Content: 1/5 (a male character flirts with a female plane and, when she leaves, the male plane says ‘look at that propeller!’ which may be a reference to her bottom although he doesn’t leer at her and this is not sexual. A female character becomes infatuated with a male who is a little overwhelmed and struggles to cope with the welcome but over-the-top attention; he is covered in lipstick marks and as he is dragged off screen, he pleads ‘Be gentle with me!’)
- Bad Language: 1/5 (one character says ‘he kicked Aston Martins out there!’. Some infrequent and very mild blasphemy)
- Dialogue: (when finding out that Dusty is a cropduster, an incidental character sarcastically says ‘well he’s gonna die!’ When meeting identical twins, one character says ‘I wish I was separated at birth!’ although they do not seem to understand what this means)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of ambition, dreams of greatness, determination, friendship, respect, and integrity.