Certificate U, 1h 32m ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
We’ve seen from the Red Bull air races that racing aeroplanes can be fast, exciting and dangerous, and arguably even more so than car rallying or the (boring) processional laps that dominate Formula 1. Disney has tried to capture that excitement and bring their successful Cars format to the world of flying.
Technically is very competent. The flying sequences are awesome – especially in 3D. The jargon of aviation, probably unfamiliar to people who keep their eyes firmly on the ground, doesn’t descend to meaningless technobabble, yet neither is it overpowering.
The story is the good old Conquer your fears & push your limits yarn. Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is the underdog crop duster from the middle of nowhere who dreams of entering the round the world air rally. He’s trained by a retired US Navy Corsair (Stacy Keach). Once he gets into the race, he’s joined by an eclectic mix of characters representing planes from around the world, from Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) and El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) to Bulldog (John Cleese) and Ishani (Priyanka Chopra).
If you think of it as a flying version of Wacky Races, you won’t be far wrong.
Yes the story is a bit clunky in places, and the cheesy romantic sub-plot (between a Canadian twin engined variant of a Beech Bonanza and a Spanish Gee Bee Racer) is kinda like Cheezy Peez without the Peez, and the animation is not quite up to the standard of the Pixar originals (and they were probably the least technically competent Pixar movies)
Nevertheless, and especially if you’re an aeroplane geek like me, what better way to while away 90 minutes than watching planes do stuff? Well obviously other than watching real planes do stuff, or getting in a real plane and doing stuff. But well, it’s the third best thing. Or possibly fourth.
Oh, trivia. There are a couple of FA/18 fighters in the movie, dressed to look like Goose and Ice Man from the movie Top Gun. They are voiced by Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer, who played Goose and Ice Man in Top Gun.
Go / No Go rating: Go.