2013 Certificate: u


Disney returns to the world of (but mostly above) Cars for this tale of a crop-dusting plane who dreams of joining the jet set. Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) spends his days going up and down the same strips of land at low altitude - because he has a fear of heights. But when he has a chance to qualify for a famous round-the-world race, Dusty seeks the advice of old fighter plane Skipper (Stacy Keach) to get him soaring. Family friendly spin-off from Disney Animation Studios.


  • Klay Hall


  • Dane Cook

  • Teri Hatcher

  • Stacy Keach

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

  • Cedric The Entertainer

  • John Cleese


It'd be all too easy to remake Cars but with airplanes instead, which is probably why the plot of this Disney Animation Studios spin-off is Cars in reverse.

Unlike the Cars hero, Lightning McQueen, Dusty Crophopper has plenty of friends but no success. So when the chance arises to enter himself into the qualifying round of a round-the-world race, Dusty quite literally jumps at the chance.

Seeking the help of experienced flyer Skipper (Stacy Keach) and his buddies, including Dottie (Hatcher) the mechanic, Dusty begins to learn the tricks to becoming a flying racer.

Once in the race, Dusty has to navigate the tricky world of elite racing, as well as the courses themselves, staying true to the core Disney values while remaining competitive all along.

Technically, Planes is rather astounding. The visual effects are beautifully realised as the animators get to draw a huge variety of locales, from India to Mexico, subtley drawing in rotor blades and cockpits into the backgrounds and clouds.

The characters are, as one might expect, caricatures from their respective countries - a Mexican wrestler type, a tea-drinking Brit plane voiced by John Cleese etc - but the planes themselves are lovingly realised and, we're assured, technically accurate.

The plot doesn't have the resonance - or the sly jokes - of a Pixar effort, and beyond the Top Gun cameos, there's not a huge amount to keep the parents overly entertained. But John Lassetter's influence is still clear to see. Cars was his thing, and Planes largely keeps up with that inspiration, and is a drastic improvement on the remarkably irritating Cars 2.

At its best, Planes soars above anything Disney Animation Stuios have produced in recent years on a computer, and when it's not quite that high, it remains an singularly child-friendly affair.

Rich Phippen