Riding on the name of Pixar's crowd-puller Cars, Disney's Planes does more than just appear to be from the same family. Critics note that Planes could be Cars' parallel universe, and a not so entertaining one at that.
Stephen Whitty jokes that Planes is "like a Mad Libs version of the first Cars scripts, with merely some nouns changed."
"So is there a grumpy grandfatherly mentor as in Cars? Yes. And an awkward, untutored truck as a sidekick? Check. Do we have an international race as we did in Cars 2? You bet. Complete with national stereotypes of the various foreign entries? But of course, senor," writes Whitty in NJ.com.
William Goss has a word on Priyanka Chopra and her comfortable submission to all the unoriginality in Film.com. "When Chopra’s sleek Indian temptress makes a nod to Hindu culture by saying that “many believe that we will be recycled as tractors,” one is tempted to remind her that, technically, this will all be recycled as Planes: Fire & Rescue next summer, then as Boats, then as Trains, and then maybe as Tractors."
"You'd know it was from the folks who created Cars even if the ads didn't scream it. The film looks drawn by the same hand (yes, I know computers are involved). The general shape of things is nicely rounded, not too many harsh edges. The eyes are expressive; a few look slightly sleepy. The color palette feels stone-washed and dreamy. As with Cars, the world of Planes feels safe. A little too safe, perhaps," notes Betsy Sharkey in LA Times.
So maybe it is safe for kids to watch?
Maybe not, says Goss. "Much is made of Dusty’s reluctance to have his sprayer surgically removed. Good luck explaining that one, folks.) The fun doesn’t stop there: characters toss around pun-powered slang like “Lugnut up!” and “Why don’t you go plow yourself?” while a convertible flying car is greeted warily as a schizophrenic, because if there’s one thing that kids love with their Midnight Cowboy references (yes, really), it’s shoutouts to mental illness."
Wait, that's not all. There's a suggestion of a sex scene if Neil Genzlinger of NY Times is to be believed.
"With children being naturally curious, parents should prepare themselves by studying the schematics for assorted aircraft. There are bound to be some awkward questions about the birds and the bees and the flying machines," writes Genzlinger.
Whitty thinks otherwise though. "Small children probably won't mind. The ones I saw at my screening certainly didn't, and although this Disneyfied cartoon adds bathroom jokes that Pixar would never have stooped to, it also picks up the pace considerably. Once the race starts and the main characters take off, the movie does too — at least for little ones," he writes in NJ.com.
"Of course the character design — which was, unfortunately, Pixar's worst — remains. The vehicles' windshields double as eyes. There are no sharp edges, or rich textures. Everything is as round and shiny as a pacifier," Whitty adds.
Tom Koegh seems to agree in The Seattle Times. "Unfortunately, the speed of the Planes story and the script’s constant shifts in Dusty’s racing progress more resemble the busy nonsense of Pixar’s disastrous Cars 2 than the engaging, character-driven plot of Cars."
So they didn't even get the copying right? Unfortunate.
However, Koegh adds, "But a recent 3-D screening of the movie reveals visual delights, especially virtual aerial footage and such clever — even startling — detail as the sight of white gliders soaring and scattering like geese. Strengths and weaknesses taken together, Planes drags as much as it lifts."
Planes scores an abysmal 26% on the tomatometer. Comment on Rotten Tomatoes: "Planes has enough bright colors, goofy voices, and slick animation to distract some young viewers for 92 minutes -- and probably sell plenty of toys in the bargain -- but on nearly every other level, it's a Disney disappointment."
Too bad, Priyanka.