Set in a vehicular world, "Planes" is an underdog story complete with a bit of romance, plucky sidekicks, arrogant bad guys and dumb henchmen.
The story begins in Lincoln, Nebraska, where our protagonist, the ambitious crop-duster Dusty Crophopper (voiceover by Dane Cook), with a single engine and propeller dreams of participating in the annual international flying race called 'Wings Around The Globe'.
Dusty is encouraged by his motley group of friends that include the feisty forklift Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and the growly fuel truck, Duff (Brad Garrett). He qualifies for the Grand Race. But mere practice and encouragement from friends does not ensure winning.
After seeing Dusty's determination, Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach) the veteran retired WWII squadron leader, whose motto is "Bono Proveritas - I fly for truth", decides to help him.
Though Dusty is a good flyer, the issue here is not only speed but the fact that Dusty is afraid of heights too. He is scared of flying over 1000 feet. So Skipper educates Dusty with the norms of speed flying and draws a strategy on navigation, endurance and speed for him.
The grand race spans over six legs - New York to Iceland to Germany to India to Nepal to China to Mexico. It is witnessed by over 136 nations has 41 contestants participating from various countries.
Prominent among them are the three time racing champion Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) as the high-tech arrogant New Yorker, one of the earlier winners in the fray Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) portrayed as the sly Indian, the smitten Mexican El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui). There is also Sky Slycer, Bulldog, Power Propellers and many more.
To add zing to the narration there is a fleet of naval aircrafts, a mariachi band and a whole list of supporters.
The voices of the star cast strikingly synchronize with their characters. The film, though verbose, is loaded with pretty good one-liners that keep you chuckling often. Witty one-liners like, "I don't cry, I am British," and the sarcastic, "we all know where nice guys finish" highlight cultural stereotypes.
The back ground score is good. The song 'Fly High' would interest the Indian audience, since it is sung by Priyanka Chopra. The other song "I am just a love machine, I work for nobody but you," has interesting lyrics and is worth a mention.
Though entertaining, the plot in Klay Hall directed 'Planes' lacks novelty. Dusty's challenges are exciting but formulaic and the result predictable. Scenes and the underdog theme seem to be lifted from films like "Cars" and the recently released, "Turbo".
Graphically the computer generated animated images are good. The planes are classically anthropomorphized, but then, being a vehicular world the scope is limited and it gets visually tedious.
Over all "Planes" would leave you with the feeling of, been there, seen that.
Critic: Troy Ribeiro
(2 / 5) : Average