Who has jumped onto the Planes’ bandwagon? Anyone, anyone, Bueller? You better get on now, because before it even hit the theater, opening at $22.5 million (though the empty theater I watched it in makes me want to demand a recount, the sequel was pre-approved just like those credit cards they send you in the mail! If anything can be gleaned from last weekend, finishing third in front of the newest Percy Jackson movie probably sounds the closing bell for the demigod.
Here are my thoughts on this Disney offering of a Pixar universe:
- If You Liked: Cars you might like Planes. Can we just break this down. Cars has a red racecar with issues as its main character. Planes has an orange “race” plane with issues. That’s right kids, orange! I like orange. It reminds me of Aquaman. And it is not red! The main female character of Cars is a strong no nonsense blue Porsche. In Planes we have the strong, independent blue forklift named Dottie. The names do start with completely different letters! Both Lightening McQueen and Dusty Crophopper have an older mentor with a secret! It is not the same secret, so it is clearly different. And just to show there is no trend here. Lightening McQueen’s best friend is Mater, a larger vehicle who marches to the beat of his own drum. He sounds funny! Dusty does not have a plane best friend, instead he has Chug a larger vehicle, a fuel truck, who follows his own drum and sounds a little funny. But he is not really rusty so it is very different. I am now ready to write Boats, please call me. I’ve got this!
- Cliff: Planes is not a Pixar film, it is based on the World of Cars but is a Walt Disney Pictures release. It is specifically a DisneyToon Studios production, the people who brought you every Disney straight to home video sequel. And quality wise it stands beside the DisneyToon Studios better films, such as the Tinker Bell line. .....Wait, sorry I got distracted. So every Pixar movie has John Ratzenberger providing a voice. It is not hard to find Ratzenbergers’s audio cameo in this movie. I have had a lot of friends ask about Pixar’s Planes and how was it. I have to remind you that this is not a Pixar film, but it is easy to be confused with DisneyToon Studios pulling in this Pixar staple for a minor role. There is plenty of confusion out there about where this film came from.
- Product Placement: Well Synergy lives! Michael Eisner would be proud. American Airlines shows off its new plane design with Tripp, a Boeing 777. I cannot remember many animated product placements, but this one is very obvious thanks to the American Airlines commercial attached to the print of the film I saw. Disney is brilliant. American Airlines struck an exclusive deal to show Planes on their flights a month early. And for that they will always be in the movie. You cannot accuse Disney for not knowing how to make money. In fact, I am still convinced that they made a profit on John Carter.
- Second Team: I am sorry, Planes in many ways does feel like a direct to video production to me, regardless of how much money they have put into marketing the film. And here is just one example of why, where is the short? There is no short paired with Planes. All Pixar films get a short. Wreck-It-Ralph got a short. Where’s the short? You have trained me Disney. If you want me to take your film seriously, I need a short! It also does not help that Pixar did not produce this film. And knowing the history of DisneyToon’s studios past releases, it really does feel to me as a direct to video, the original plan. I like that Disney is trying to push their abilities to produce theatrical quality animated films. But I really do worry that many will see this as a 90 minute toy commercial that will soon be forgotten. Of course, that is me talking about the release and not the actual movie.
- Baa Baa Black Sheep: The Between Kid loves planes. So it was nice to see a variety of planes, many of which I will be able to buy for pretend play. As someone who has studied World War II I did get a little thrill with the introduction of Skipper a World War II era Corsair. I really enjoyed the story of Pappy Boyington on Baa Baa Black Sheep as a kid and I really enjoy seeing an animated Corsair. Hey, did you catch that World War II happened in the World of Cars. Now that is a movie I want to see as Fords battle Toyotas in the Pacific Theater. Speaking of the military, I did really enjoy the Top Gun cameos. Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards voice a pair of F/A-18E Super Hornets. Now that is a great tribute to a non-Disney yet classic film.
For me, and from other reviews I have seen Planes fell flat for me and those like me, adults. But unlike Up, or cough cough Pixar films, I do not feel like Planes was written for an all ages audience. It was produced for kids and both of the Between Family minors really enjoyed the film. And I will be purchasing it when it finally arrives in its intended home release.
So 2014, Planes: Fire & Rescue kids. I wonder how they will turn the three minute “Rescue Squad Mater” into a 90 minute film!