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Planes movie review: Sky’s the limit for this love machine

Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter who earned her master's degree at UCLA Film School. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her TV pilot, Ada and the Machine, is cur...

Just don't look down!

Dane Cook voices Dusty Crophopper, a small plane with a big dream to compete in an international race against professional aerial speedsters. There’s one teensy, little problem – Dusty is terrified of heights. But at least he’s not flying solo; the voices of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese and Teri Hatcher have fueled up and are ready for take off.

Just don't look down!

Just don't look down!

Dusty (Dane Cook) is a small plane with a Dreamliner-sized dream: to race other flying machines high up in the sky. Wait, scratch that. Dusty prefers to race low to the ground due to his acrophobia. As a crop duster, he ‘s accustomed to flying just above the rows of corn, not soaring over mountain tops. But to fly in the big leagues takes big courage and he’ll need to conquer his high-altitude affliction if he wants to skyrocket to first place.

Dusty’s forklift-friend and mechanic, Dottie (Teri Hatcher), worries Dusty is going to crash and burn. Instead of being the wind beneath his wings, she tells the single prop plane, “You’re built for seed, not speed,” causing Dusty to realize there’s only one aeronaut who can help: former World War 2 ace flyer, Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach).

Disney's Planes: trailer, cast and more >>

Just don't look down!

A grumpy old Navy corsair, Skipper is reluctant to help Dusty, but this veteran turbine is soon won over by Dusty’s can-fly attitude. With a little mechanical mentoring, Dusty is finally ready to hit the air field.

Also competing in this around-the-atmosphere race is El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), a Mexican legend whose passion for racing is equal only to his passion for the ladies. El Chu’s engine revs high for the French-Canadian planestress, Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

In probably the sweetest and funniest scene in the movie, Dusty helps El Chu serenade Rochelle with a Latin–smooth-as-satin version of the song "Love Machine" by the Miracles, only with maracas and trumpets.

Just don't look down!

Dusty has a love interest of his own, she’s a pan-Asian flyer from India named Ishani (Priyanka Chopra). While she might be a delight to the eyes, she’s downright merciless in the skies and tricks Dusty, hoping to knock him out of the race.

What’s charming about Planes is that the characters are cleverly conceived and, unlike last month’s tanker Turbo, Planes is pretty funny — even for adults. No easy feat. It’s also a joy to fly around the world and get Disney’s take on exotic lands like Iceland, Munich and the Himalayas — locations not typically explored by the Mouse.

Bottom line: This is modern Disney, where the animation, storytelling and voice-acting meld into excellent family fun.

Run time is 1 hour, 32 minutes.

Photo credit: Disney
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