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It *IS* a Cars spin off, and that's okay...
There is a bimodal distribution (2 peaks) in the user review scoring of Planes: 1-star, this is a horrible rip- off, nothing new here, Pixar's image is tarnished - and 10-star, what a wonderful kid's film, details are excellent, funny, good message.
First, this is not a Pixar film. You read that right. It's Disney, not Pixar. But it does have common cast of writers/producers. You may even note the tag line, "From above the world of Cars," overtly acknowledging the connection. If you can get past the notion of a rip-off, then, you'll find a lovely, joyful movie with enough to keep parents entertained while children are having a blast.
Yes the characters resemble those in Cars. Yes some of the plot lines are familiar. Yes the animation is similar to Cars (although the flight scenes are spectacular in spots). You know what I remember? Cars was a great movie! I'm pretty sure I remember that since I've seen it 147 times with my son (not really).
This is not an academy award winning movie. But it is a lot of fun. Before giving this children's cartoon 1-star, be clear what you're watching.
Detective School Dropouts (1986)
Admittedly, this movie falls far short of anything the academy would use as a DVD coaster for the lighting guy backstage. It's terrible. The dialogue and plot is laughably predictable. The camera work is generally sub-par... as if it were the director's first film. At times, it's just plain stupid. So stupid, it can be brilliant - in the same way the Keystone Cops were hilarious. The scene with a stolen Ferrari is absolutely priceless. I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard or rewound a movie so many times. I've been waiting in vain for a DVD version to come out, and my Tivo is always searching. Perhaps you can still catch an old VHS copy on eBay with some persistence. If you watch with the appropriate silly, B-movie attitude, you won't be disappointed.
Escape from Affluenza (1998)
If you like your whine dry, it's worth the time...
The original, Affluenza (a PBS special), set out to convince us (Americans) that we're using far too many resources and creating far too much waste - not hard to sell. It was also quite humorous. This time around, the producers spend more time showing us people actually living within a 'smaller footprint.' It's less engaging than the first, but still quite informative. In fact, if the first film convinced you to change your life financially and environmentally, part two will show you how. There's more than enough proof to convict most of us of our over-consumption. Sometimes the statistics can be downright staggering.
If you're the NPR-tote bag type, watch them both - but do it in order. "Affluenza" sets up "Escape from Affluenza." If you're just having trouble falling asleep, watch this one.