Cars came out when my oldest son was just a preschooler. As the mother of little boys, it has ruled our lives ever since. When Disney Planes was announced, my kids began anxiously counting down the days until it’s release.
My 7 year old experienced the highlight of his summer when he came with me earlier this week to a pre-release screening of Planes. I’m going to be playing that card for a while now — “Remember when you got to go see Planes with me? How about you help fold the laundry without complaining?”
Just kidding. Kind of.
We had high hopes as we went into this movie and it didn’t disappoint. Right away I saw strong similarities to Cars. You have Dusty Crophopper (Voiced by Dane Cook), an overly confident crop duster with dreams of becoming a competitive racer (who sometimes disregards the advice of his friends). Then you’ve got the not-such-a-nice-
guy plane Ripslinger (voiced by Roger Craig Smith). At first, I thought “Okay, it’s a great visually appealing movie but all they did was translate Cars to the sky”.
Then it became something more.
As it turns out, Dusty really just isn’t built to be a racer. And ironically, he’s afraid of heights. But this plane just won’t give up and somehow he qualifies (by sheer willpower and a little bit of Hollywood luck) for the famous North American Wings Around the Globe race.
With the help of a Skipper (voiced by Stacy Keach), a seasoned but mysterious Navy veteran, Dusty learns how to be competitive and work through his own fears and insecurities. He turns into a great “vehicular interest story” as the race progresses and you might even catch a few of the competitors checking in on him by watching videos on their “skypads”.
Throughout the film, there’s an emphasis on what it really means to be a true competitor. We realize that good sportsmanship means more than just winning.
The characters, representative of several nations worldwide, each have their own quirks and personalities. Disney did a great job of rounding out each of the minor characters and bringing an element of romance and comedy into the storyline.
In a poignant scene that echoes the theme that runes through the entire film, Dusty declares, “I’m just trying to prove that maybe, just maybe I can do more than what I was built for.” It’s a great underdog story that has some unexpected twists that distinguish it from cars and allow it to stand as a great film in it’s own right.
For me, the most telling sign of how successful Planes is as a movie was watching my 7 year old son light up at each of Dusty’s successes. He nearly jumped out of his seat and cheered at the end of the movie. Afterwards we had a long conversation (initiated by him) about why cheating is really not good and how important it is to be true to yourself.
Planes comes out in theaters on August 9 nationwide and is rated PG. This is one movie that’s well worth seeing on the big screen!
Watch the Disney Planes Trailer