Displaying a weird lack of memorable or endearing characters, this animated effort feels more like a direct-to-video job from the 1990s than a fully fledged John Lasseter–exec-produced theatrical release. After Frozen, it’s a huge step back for Disney, both in terms of simply telling an engaging story for kids, and its underlying social messages. The first three female characters with dialogue are a killjoy mechanic who informs hero Dusty (Dane Cook) that he can’t race anymore for health reasons, a waitress with a single line, and a pink sports car who’s hit on by—groan—a pickup truck.
The boys don’t fare much better: The main story arc is about an antiquated model of plane struggling to cope with obsolescence in his chosen job market. It’s difficult to imagine how this parable of middle age will resonate with eight-year-olds. Of course, you could say the same of something like Pixar’s grumpy-old-man odyssey Up, but that was a triumph of characterization and charm over a bare-bones narrative. Sadly, the closest this lackluster outing comes to wittiness is making forced puns about how Dusty “kicked Aston Martin.” The rockin’ MOR soundtrack also deserves special mention for Nickelback-esque services to dreariness.