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)

The executive: But fresh, I hope. I hope it'll feel fresh.

Hall: We're thinking Dane Cook for the voice of Dusty; Brad Garrett as the crop duster's trusty fuel truck, Mater — sorry, Chug, that's it, Chug, his name is Chug. And in the Doc role, the one Paul Newman voiced in the first "Cars," we have Stacy Keach as Skipper, the crusty mentor with the dramatic World War II back story, the one that seems to come from an entirely different picture.

The executive: I liked those storyboards. Real History Channel stuff.

Howard: Because John (Lasseter, the Disney/Pixar giant who executive-produced "Planes" and helped cook up the story) is a nostalgic fellow, we're going for some of that stuff from his moviegoing youth. You know: "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines." "The Great Race." That sort of thing.

The executive, losing interest, checking his iPad: Right.

Hall: But with heart.

The executive: Very important. What is it that Walt said? For every laugh, a tear? Teach an animator to draw and he'll draw for a lifetime? Something like that. OK, we all have deadlines and stockholders to fear. Thomas will validate your parking.

Scene 3

The executive: So, we're going to release "Planes" theatrically after all.

Hall: Great!

The executive: And we're going ahead with the sequel.

Howard: Great!

The executive: Life is funny, guys. A lot funnier than your movie. Just kidding. Well done. "Planes" has practically no visual distinction, it's a complete knockoff, but I think it'll get by with the kids. My son can't wait to see it. We saw "Turbo" the other night, by the way, and this is "Ratatouille" compared to "Turbo."

Hall: Great to hear.

The executive: And it's great to be able to say. And Leslie's got your parking validation. See you soon.

Lights out.

'Planes' - 2 stars

MPAA rating: PG (for some mild action and rude humor)

Running time: 1:31

Opens: Friday

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