Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — As another summer stacked with box office milking sequels departs and is sure to leave most of them to the bargain bin of future forgettables, why not include the latest example from the empire of the mouse. Already established as something that has suckered countless moms and dads for just the inspired merchandise alone, it didn’t take a marketing expert to see how it was easy money to bring this chapter to the franchise and barely make an investment in the story department.
However, that being said, a lowered sense of expectation helps once again as further examination shows how beneath the shallow money grab lies some of the magic that may have been lost in the second film’s redneckitude expansion. Sure, it still may not even garner the respectability of the pixar touch or even in the same league as this year’s entry, but for what it was, I still left the theater entertained and without feeling like much was lost in the effort. “Planes” turned out a bit more genuine than I originally was willing to give it credit for with perhaps a bit more than just kid-friendly themes and a few laughs to spare.
Set in the appropriately named Propwash Junction, the tale focuses on a restless young cropduster plane named Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), who is not satisfied spraying fields with fertilizer for the rest of his days. No, this ambitious flyer instead has dreams of being a racing champion, much to the mocking naysayers like his coworker Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) and only supported at first by his friend, a fuel truck named Chug (Brad Garrett).
Intent on proving he is much more than he appears on the surface, he enters and by a snowball’s chance in hell qualifies for the Wings across the World Race. It is no shock that he is ill pre-pared to face off against any plane, let along the reigning multiple champion, Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) and he might be doomed to crash back into obscurity if not for an old war plane, Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), who takes pity on him. Cue the journey where he must stumble through incredible odds to achieve greatness and find out how he is not really alone in seeking a fair chance for all the little guys.
The one element that seemed to place this in the fun for any age category was the character of El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), who is without a doubt one of the best uses of comedy relief out of any film so far this year. The perfect example of a good friend, I give high props alone to his rendition of the song “Love Machine,” where the humor is gold.
The rest is something that I’d say is at least worth a rental and let’s face it, much less down in the gutter than some of the people who are supposed to be role models for children today. Plus, for a low budget film, it proves not every enjoyable hit has to have a $200 million price tag. When the last propeller sputters, the end result for “Planes” is three and three fourths out of five engines.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.