If you haven't watched Disney's new animated movie, Planes, yet, I suggest you fly over to the nearest movie theatre and buy a ticket. Sure, you could wait for the DVD, but you really shouldn't -- director Klay Hall has given viewers a unique look into the world above Cars that you just can't replicate at home, even in the best of home theater systems. The camera is constantly swooping, diving, soaring and spinning along with its main characters -- at times it's so much like a 3D ride that motion-sickness prone viewers might even have to look away from the screen at times! (I certainly had to!).
The storyline of Planes takes you on quite a ride. After the first few minutes of the movie, I thought I had it all figured out -- small-town plane takes the big racing world by storm. In fact, to an adult, the plot might seem far fetched (Might? Try will!). How did Dusty the crop duster manage to qualify for the Wings Around the World race? If he was so fast, why did his friends from middle-of-nowhere Propwash Junction make fun of him? Surely he was already lightning fast, a natural prodigy? Surely he couldn't have become a world-class flier in just a few months? Ridiculous -- to everyone except a kid. None of my kids ever questioned it!
More importantly, as the movie progressed, I realized that the underdog story wasn't really the point of the story, it wasn't what pulled my emotional strings. No, what made me begin to cheer for Dusty was his compassion, his willingness to help friends (and strangers) in need, and his attitude that good sportsmanship is more important than winning. And what finally won me over was seeing how his acts of kindness were repaid to him when he was at his lowest.
Do I recommend this movie? Absolutely. Is it worth a second look? Yes! Even after you already know the story, there is so much to entertain you, no matter what your age. Kids, of course, can enjoy the story countless times. Adults will enjoy the jokes (especially anything to do with El Chu, the lovesick Lucha-Libre racer). They will enjoy the cameos (even though I was disappointed that none -- zero, zip, zilch -- of the characters from Cars made an appearance!). My favorite cameos were Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as Echo and Bravo the fighter jets (oldies like me who remember Top Gun will love the fact that Iceman and Goose are back in the skies!). And they will enjoy searching for the many plane shapes littered throughout the movie.
Some shapes are easy to spot, like Skipper's airplane-shaped hangar.
Others are more subtle, like the plane-shaped rock formations in the canyon where Dusty and Ripslinger made their final sprint to the finish line. In fact, I wasn't able to spot any of them the first time I watched the movie! I had to ask director Klay Hall for some help. He gave me three clues on where to look, so the second time I watched Planes, I was ready! Since I already knew the story, I had time to look around, and I even spotted a few other plane-themed shapes that Klay hadn't pointed out!
Here are the plane-themed shapes I was able to find (I'm sure there are more):
* Propwash Junction -- landing strip shaped like airplanes
* Propwash Junction -- mountains shaped like airplanes
* New York -- Statue of Liberty shaped like a forklift
* Iceland -- ice formations shaped like airplanes
* Nepal -- jungle foliage shaped like a jet engine
* India -- seagulls shaped like airplanes
* India -- tops of the Taj Mahal shaped like radar towers
* China -- Chinese lanterns shaped like hot air balloons
Can you spot them all? Can you spot any more? It will probably take a few viewings of the movie to see them all! But that's okay, I'm sure your little one won't mind watching Disney's Planes again and again and again and again....
Disclosure: I was invited to an advanced screening of Disney's Planes. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.