Imagine the pitch for 'Planes'... ★★

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"Reel Thursdays with Michael Phillips." Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips praises "Elysium" and names "We're the Millers" one to avoid. (Posted on August 8, 2013)

Scene 1

The pitch meeting. Disney executive on one side of the table, "Planes" director Klay Hall and screenwriter Jeffrey M. Howard on the other.

The executive: So … it's "Cars."

Hall: Yes ...

Howard: That's right …

The executive: But with planes.

Pause.

Howard: Yes. Right. "Cars," with planes. And some cars. And a truck or two.

The executive: Fine. Great. I have a 10 o'clock, but fine. Thanks. Lorraine can validate your parking on the way out.

Scene 2

The follow-up meeting.

The executive: We like it. We like what we're seeing with the storyboards, fellas. "Planes" may be going straight to video, but we like to feel good about where things are going, even if this isn't a Pixar project the way "Cars" and "Cars 2" were. Those were some toys, right? How many billions? Too many for me to count. My son can't get enough of Lightning McQueen. Here's a photo.

Lights instantly dim, and the executive runs through an elegant slide show of his son in the bath playing with cars from "Cars."

The executive: This summer, you know what I want? I want that kid to be doing the same with your crop duster, Dusty, the one who wants to compete in the around-the-world air race against the Mexican, the Indian, the French Canadian — all the ethnic stereotypes you have in that script of yours, Jeffrey.

Howard: We want that too! We'd like that too.

Hall: It's "Cars," but with planes, see?

The executive: Yes, I see.

Hall: The town's called Propwash Junction, sort of like Radiator Springs in "Cars." And the eyes! The eyes of the planes are going to look exactly the same as the eyes of the cars in "Cars." And "Cars 2." I assure you, we won't try anything new. Nothing.

The executive: Uh-huh.

Pause.

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