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Disney’s Planes: You’ve Seen it Before, But You Haven’t

I have mixed feelings about Disneytoon’s latest animated offering, Planes. The characters feel recycled from Cars and it’s readily apparent they tried to recapture the same vibe by borrowing heavily from Radiator Spring’s residents. There’s the gruff old-timer with a mysterious backstory and heart of gold, there’s the hapless and slow best friend, the love interest, the sassy supporting cast, the egotistical rival, and THE BIG RACE.

Will Lightning/Dusty win? Along the way, will they sacrifice their own position to help rivals? Do they have personality flaws they have to overcome to triumph?

You’ve seen Planes if you’ve seen Cars.

However, and this is a huge however, the special effects and animation are fantastic. We saw it in 3D and it made the movie. The flying scenes are breathtaking and might leave you dizzy. The realism is pretty stunning, and for that I believe Planes is worth seeing in a theater. Spring for the 3D showing, too, because there is nothing gratuitous about the effects. Sometimes, when you see a 3D movie, there is no reason for half the silly things that fly at you. They do it because they can, not because they further the story. In Planes, every second in the air is very well done.

There are a few great scenes and some laugh-out-loud humor, but most come toward the end of the movie. It begins slowly and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but if you’re under the age of 12 these questions may not even occur to you. I took Tommy, Joel, and Archie and they had mixed feelings as well. Archie is 4 and thought it rocked in every way. Better than Cars 2! he exclaimed. 9-year-old Joel thought it was pretty awesome, but Tommy, at age 11, believes Cars is better. He still enjoyed Planes, just not as much.

And that’s the key: This movie is made for younger kids.

Unlike some other Disney/Pixar movies with complex themes and characters (thinking of Up, The Incredibles), Planes is pure Saturday morning cartoon caliber fare. That’s okay. I don’t need to weep or contemplate mid-life ennui or regret whilst munching on popcorn with my kids—at least not all the time.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to heartily recommend Planes, especially during this summer when there’s been a bajillion animated family movies and you’re probably out of movie money by now. (especially with all the expenses of back to school time!) But I will, simply because of the amazing effects. If you don’t see it now, in 3D, you’ll be missing out on something special.

Planes opens everywhere on August 9th, 2013!

(Disney provided screening passes for me and three kids for the purpose of spreading the word and writing a review. The opinions are mine and my kids’. Image courtesy of Disney)

3 comments to Disney’s Planes: You’ve Seen it Before, But You Haven’t

  • We get to see it for free tomorrow. No idea if we get to see it in 3-D, but I’m happy to not pay. Despicable Me 2 has been our favorite this summer.

  • Brian

    It’s ‘Radiator Springs’ silly 😛 <3

    I definitely only think about Cars here. I'm not sure if that was their goal, but frankly I groaned when it was revealed to be another racing movie. We just saw 'Turbo' a few weeks ago (also much better movie than the previews looked). I'm sure Planes is fine for kids, but no way I'm dropping $50 bucks for the family to watch Cars in the air. Sorry Disney.

    Despicable Me 2 was probably the best animated movie of the summer, no doubt.

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