Planes

Director: Klay Hall

Actors: Dane Cook, Julie Louis-Dreyfer, Teri Hatcher

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Animation, Comedy, Family

Running time: 92 minutes

You know when someone says not to think of pink elephants and exactly that pops into your head? Well, when it comes to Planes, you're not to think of Cars In The Sky. Because Planes is nothing like that. At all. No siree bob. Even if you didn't see Cars, and you're not missing much if you didn't, the latest from Disney (but not Pixar) is bland and predictable stuff.

Dusty (Cook, sounding an awful lot like Ben Stiller) is an ordinary crop-dusting plane who dreams of winning the annual around-the-world aerial race and he gets his chance when he convinces the retired WWII jet fighter (Keach) to teach him to fly with the best. However, Dusty harbours a secret - he's afraid of heights, which proves testing when he's forced to fly above bad weather during the gruelling race...

The flying sequences make good on their promise to exhilarate (the 3D should offer a little more oomph, however) but sadly that's the only positive element of this it-exists-only-to-flog-the-toys animation. It's story-by-numbers time with thinly-drawn archetypal characters: the grumpy old mentor one, the flashy champ one (Roger Craig Smith), the snooty British one (John Cleese), the attractive female one (Priyanka Chopra), and the charismatic (insert random nationality here, but this time out he's Mexican) one. Like Cars, the whole thing just looks awkward, and you can't help but ask the same questions that popped into your head during Cars 1 and 2: in a world devoid of humans, who are the seats for? Who are Dusty's crops for? Who exactly is being flown in that Boeing 747 that almost runs over poor Dusty?

The frustrating thing is there was a wonderful and exciting story to be told, but Disney only buzz its tower. We're given a brief flashback to Keach's fateful mission during WWII, an attack on an enemy battleship that goes badly wrong, and it's got more zip and verve than anything else on offer here. Maybe Disney balked at the risk of being pro-war or something, but it didn't stop them in portraying the Air Force and Navy as cool hero types. A missed opportunity there.

So what will be the next spin off? Boats? Spaceships? Actually, Spaceships sounds okay...