Let me preface with this: Cars is my least favorite Pixar film. Well, actually Cars 2 is… as that sequel should never have been made. When they were making ANOTHER spinoff, I was hesitant. It was supposed to go straight to DVD and that would’ve made sense. I didn’t even plan on seeing Planes in theaters, I just needed a break from the heat and it happened to be the only movie playing at that time, that I hadn’t seen yet. But was it a flop? Or did it soar?
Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a cropduster that wants to compete in this world-spanning race but gets all sorts of resistance because cropdusters aren’t supposed to race around the world. He has some cars that serve as his pit crew (Brad Garrett and Teri Hatcher) and he has a cranky old fighter plane (Stacy Keach) that serves as a mentor. Spoiler: He eventually gets into the race (like there was a doubt) and runs into other eclectic characters from all over the world, featuring voices like John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anthony Edwards, Sinbad, Val Kilmer, and Gabriel Iglesias.
Surprisingly, Dane Cook knocks it out of the park. You kind of forget that it’s even him, though he has a definite familiar voice. So the fact that you can forget that it’s him, is quite a feat. He comes off as likeable. He comes off as charming but also an underdog, as opposed to the usual confident Dane Cook demeanor.
The story is predictable, though an entertaining ride. If you go in with the mindset that it’s a meant-to-be direct to DVD movie for kids, you’ll lower your expectations. It’s fun and mindless and there are definite moments.
What doesn’t work?
While the “world traveling” theme kind of requires it, some of the movie’s diverse characters come off as being a tad bit racist, though maybe I’ve overly sensitive. The biggest culprit was the Mexican luchadore airplane El Chupacabra, voiced by Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911). I couldn’t tell when it was over the line, but I kept getting this weird spider-signal that it was just too much.
Also, it seemed like the budget was inflated to buy huge names for small parts. Characters with like a handful of lines were given to actors like Val Kilmer, Sinbad, and Gabriel Iglesias. Necessary? No. Just a weird publicity attempt.
Again… this is a movie intended for kids. It has zero to do with the Cars franchise, other than the stylistic look. It’s predictable. Dane Cook is good but the other voice acting isn’t anything special (especially considering the huge names they brought in). It’s a fun ride but I wouldn’t recommend paying to see it in theaters, it’ll likely be on Netflix streaming by the time I post this review. It surprised me that it wasn’t horrible, I guess that’s the important thing.