9:54 AM EDT, August 8, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
The executive: So, we're going to release "Planes" theatrically after all.
The executive: And we're going ahead with the sequel.
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.
'Planes' - 2 stars
MPAA rating: PG (for some mild action and rude humor)
Running time: 1:31
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