Grounded! A Disney Pixar Planes Review

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney Movies, Features, The Disney Review

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Published on November 23, 2013 at 12:01 am with 12 Comments

George: The initial announcement for the direct-to-home release of Planes was met with some derision and snickering among the Disney faithful. The Cars line of merchandise has been the most popular brand for Disney/Pixar and this seemed to be another way to sell more toys to little kids. The film was met with some trepidation in the Taylor household. My youngest will watch almost anything while the teen does pick and choose which films he wants to watch with us. Regardless, we watched the whole film in one sitting.

Jeff: One sitting? That’s more than I can say…


When my copy arrived, my ten year old immediately said “Wait, really?” And then it settled down into “Well, can I watch it with you? I just want to see.” I have to mention that he DOES love the Cars films, but the idea of Planes just didn’t sit right with him for some reason. So, to say we were both hesitant to begin our journey into the skies is a bit of an understatement. But, with seat belts fastened and the no smoking sign lit, we sat back, and put it in once we reached cruising altitude.

George: The plot is pretty similar to the Cars film, including the grand race. I found it interesting to compare the characters in Planes to previously developed Cars characters. Dane Cook even sounded like Owen Wilson at times. Brad Garrett’s character, a fuel truck name Chug, was a re-worked version of Mater. There was even a grizzled, older plane that was a mentor and helped drive, er, fly home lessons. Weirdly enough, it kept our attention. I think any kid under 10 that loves the World of Cars is going to love this film. Watching it as a parent, though, is going to be difficult.


Look! Mater got his teeth fixed.

Jeff: It was VERY difficult. Plot similarities aside, it just wasn’t that good of a movie. I found myself bored most of the time, and checking my watch to see how close we were to the end. Minutes dragged by. But, like George said, kids who enjoyed Cars will probably enjoy this film quite a bit due to the familiarity of the story and its connection to the world of Cars. Otherwise, though, the film should have been grounded.

George: What was more interesting is the discussion on evolution I had with the 14 year-old. So, if Cars were the dominant race, then there evolution, along with everything else on the planet with a combustion engine, was only over the past 100 years or so. Plus, the blimp really freaked me out for some reason.


This totally creeps me out. ~George

Jeff: See, now, I think the story of the evolution of these characters, both Cars and Planes, as a species would make a more interesting story than the film itself! The disc has a handful of extras, which in some ways, were much better than the film. Some deleted scenes, a song, a “meet the racers” feature, and a “how to draw” are just some of the offerings. Nothing overly spectacular, but I’m sure you’d go through them once if you had the disc.

George: There’s not much else we can say about this blu-ray. If you’re a fan of the series and the “World of Cars”, then this is a definite buy. Otherwise, let this one fly on by.

What do you think about the expansion of the Cars universe?

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By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • fnord

    I didn’t think Pixar was involved with this one, if so ,correct the title.

  • Prof. Emelius

    I do not have a problem with this sort of thing being released direct to video. This should never have been considered for a theatrical release. (Was it not released in theaters first?) If we consider this film to be a direct to video only production, it seems to be a major step up from the 2D animated video sequels of years past. The animation looks top notch and within the Disney standard. It seems to be something aimed at young kids, 12 and under, but as long as the animation quality is there, I take no issue with Disney producing things directly aimed at this specific age group that may not necessarily be enjoyed by teens and parents. Compared to the garbage and poor animation that was fed to me on Saturday mornings growing up, this is a world apart. I salute Disney for raising the bar on child aimed entertainment, yet again.

  • eicarr

    I’m sure Disney was upset at the stream of low budget CG animated movies that cost 1/4 of theirs is making almost as much as theirs. You have these 1/4 billion dollar budget films earning neck and neck with a film about raining meatballs. Disney’s profit margins are WAY behind the rest of the industry, and I think they tried to rectify that here. While Disney has a lock on the epic/innovative animation market, they’re losing their lock on fun and entertaining animations. Only merchandising revenue is justifying Disney’s high budget, low margins animations. Hoping for more big budget Marvel and Lucasfilm instead.

    • Kenny B

      Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a great animated film that doesn’t pander to the audience. It’s OK if a studio that isn’t Disney makes a great CGI movie, How To Train Your Dragon was an amazing movie as well, superior to Wreck it Ralph.

      PS – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was almost as good as the first, and quite the visual treat, I highly recommend both,

  • rstar

    I couldn’t bring myself to go see this one myself. My kids are grown and out of the house now (though I do see a movie with them once in a while). And yes, I do believe this was meant to be released on video at first, but then was changed to theatrical release. Pixar even sent people out to study planes and related equipment at small airports for this movie. I will probably watch it when they show it on the Disney Channel out of curiosity, but it will likely be the first Pixar DVD that I won’t add to my collection (unless I happen to find it for under $10).

  • Oregonmom2

    This WAS shown at the theaters and it is a disney film, not Pixar. It is still showing at some second-run theaters. There is another similarly named DVD I saw at wal-mart that looked almost the same, but it a knock-off. It is essentially Cars with planes. Not nearly the same quality movie as Cars, which is sad for Disney :( . iF the movie had been better, they could have added a Planes section to Carsland!!

  • stamphead

    I wish I would have read this before I bought it. Pretty boring!

  • Aladdin

    I too, have to emphasize “Planes” is a DISNEYTOON STUDIOS release – NOT PIXAR, and NOT DISNEY’S MAIN animation studio. Disney Toon Studio usually does animation for some of the animated shows on Disney Jr, and yes several of the sub par sequels to Disney main Animated movies (Mulan 2, Tarzan 2, Lilo and Stitch 2, Kronk’s New Groove, Bambi 2, Fox and the Hound 2, Cinderella 2 and 3)

    With PLANES, they have now crossed over to doing they usual subpar versions of Pixar movies, and sadly confusing the general public (and with the title of this topic, and at least one comment here already) into believing that Planes is somehow connected to Pixar’s higher standards, when in fact Planes IS NOT a PIXAR movie.

    Last night, when I stopped in Target, to check out the most recent video releases, a family was at the animated new releases, The mother said “Planes was awful” their 6 year old boy asked “why aren’t we getting PLANES?” the father said “that movie wasn’t good” then the mother said “Your getting TURBO or nothing at all.” I just about bust a gut laughing out loud.

  • stevek

    I thought it was entertaining, good, but not great. Basically a compilation of plot points and characters from both Cars 1 and 2. A bit disappointed that Disney didn’t come up with something more original.

  • bearytrek

    As stated above Pixar did not release this film nor was it direct to video, so two factual strikes against the review before it even begins.

    I saw the film in theatre, going in with low expectations and jaded with the CARS franchise. I came out pleasantly surprised even if the film was derivative of both CARS films.

    What the film has going for it is amazing aviation animation that is gorgeous to look at and likable characters (even if some resemble CARS movie more than just by design).

    yes, the plot is similar to the previous CARS films, but as a sequel of a sequel I cut it a little slack as most sequels are derivative to begin with.

    One wonders how deep into the CARS universe Disney is willing to delve (Trains or Ships?) considering a sequel to Planes is announced in the end credits.

    • stamphead

      George says that it was initially announced to be a direct-to-video release, which is true. However, Disney decided to release it in theaters

  • TVsRobLowe

    I think other commenters need to separate “Disney Pixar” as a brand, from “Pixar” the animation studio. Disneytoon handled production on “Mater’s Tall Tales”, but that’s still “Disney Pixar”. Pixar absolutely had a hand in this – everything from pre-production, concept, and approval was done at Pixar Canada – actual production was performed by Disneytoon. The two companies are so embedded with each other now that it really doesn’t matter either way.