Directed By: Klay Hall

Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Craig Smith, Gabriel Iglesias, John Cleese, Carlos Alazraqui, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Colin Cowherd, Sinbad, Oliver Kalkofe, and Brent Musburger

The unprecedented onslaught of children’s movies continues this weekend with Planes.  The spin-off to Cars, which was originally slated for straight-to-VOD release, is hitting theaters now.  Luckily for parents, they can close their wallets after this one is done until September's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Though we don't have Owen Wilson's beloved Lightning McQueen this time around, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is racing through the skies for us, and he's not a terrible substitute.

Dusty is a crop dusting plane who's flown tens of thousands of miles across the same fields spreading mulch alongside his partner Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) for years.  Tired of doing just what he was built for, Dusty aspires to enter the Wings Around the Globe racing competition and intends to show the world he’s meant for something more in the upcoming qualifying rounds.  To prepare for this opportunity, Dusty pushes himself to his limits with an unrelenting need for speed.  While his buddy Chug (Brad Garrett) encourages this, forklift Dottie (Teri Hatcher), who takes care of Dusty's mechanical needs, advises against this as she thinks it will all end in a fiery, furious crash for the crop duster.

Under the alias of Strut Jetstream, Dusty enters the Wings Around the Globe qualifying round.  Despite being teased for being a crop duster not built for racing, Dusty performs admirably in the round coming in sixth place.  However, sixth might as well be last given that only the top five racers qualify for the competition.  Fortunately for little crop duster, one of the top five competitors cheated and gets himself disqualified, meaning that Dusty will be flying in the biggest race of them all this year.  Under the tutelage of Navy legend and Jolly Wrenchers leader Skipper (Stacy Kleach), Dusty perfects his flying technique and takes to the skies in preparation for the competition.  On a journey to the other side of the world and back, Dusty makes plenty of friends, namely his newfound compadre El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) and the lovely Pan-Asian champ Ishani (Priyanka Chopra).  He also makes one big enemy in three-time champ Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith).  Most importantly, Dusty proves that nice guys don't finish last.

Despite being an overt cash grab by Disney to once again tap into the world of Cars, Klay Hall's Planes is not so bad.  The film has two things going for it.  First, there's plenty of humor for kids and adults alike.  With amusing performances from Dane Cook, Carlos Alazraqui, and an underutilized Cedric the Entertainer, Hall crafts a fun film for all ages.  Second, there's something that's majestic about the races through the sky.  With beautiful animation that brings all sorts of planes and cars to life, it's hard not to appreciate the aesthetics of this movie.  All in all, Planes is a fairly entertaining animated flick.

Where this spin-off fails, however, is originality.  The first two Cars films were all about racing, so only offering racing planes is nothing special.  It certainly doesn’t help that we had racing snails two weeks ago in Turbo.  Hall and his creative team should have done something fresh and innovative with this animated flick to rejuvenate the franchise.  Perhaps they should have stepped away from the competitive world of racing and stepped into new territory.  Beyond this the film is baked with too many clichés, which take away from the humor.  The empty, clichéd dialogue that permeates this screenplay is primarily a cheesy distraction that adds no value or heart to the film whatsoever.

While I have my gripes with Planes, I enjoyed it on the whole.  The problem is that it's just decent entertainment.  It could have been something great.  Hall and his creative team need to take some more creative risks with the film and the story.  In all honesty, the filmmakers should take their own advice that they give in the film.  Volo pro veritas.  Fly for truth.  Instead, they fly for cash.  Planes gets a 0.06% rating.  Parents, have a couple of rounds of beer with this one if you can manage.