My nephew Jason has a fanatical obsession with anything that is powered by an engine and runs on wheels. He lives in New York City and takes mass transit everywhere, so he’s never really been in any giant trucks or seen a professional car race in person, but the magic of auto engineering has captured his 6-year-old imagination nonetheless.
When the target audience was established for Disney’s new animated movie, Planes (it’s sort of a less-flashy spin-off of Pixar’s Cars), they could have drawn a big red circle around the gregarious little guy. He already has Planes bedsheets, in fact, before the movie is even out.
His sister, Itsabel (we call her Itsy), is a more cautious and intellectual type. Straight A’s in school with a disdain for troublemakers — but don’t worry, she’s not a snitch. I brought her to the movie, too, for a second opinion (and to avoid any arguments at home!). She’s 9 years old, so she has a lot more worldly experience too. And great taste. She saw Despicable Me 2 earlier this summer, and said she enjoyed when Gru made the good minions into bad ones. As for Cars, she felt that “there was too much gun violence.”
Jason sat on the edge of his seat both at the beginning and end of the movie, but I can’t tell if his sag in the middle act of the film was from disinterest or a come down from the sugar high provided by the giant blue raspberry Icee from the concession stand. Itsy ate popcorn leisurely throughout, never breaking into laughter, but not without a smile on her face.
Here’s a conversation with the two post-screening. I think they have a future in film criticism.
[Warning: There are mild spoilers here, if you care about that].
What was your favorite part?
Jason: My favorite part was the train tunnel, when Dusty goes in it.
Jason: Because I liked it.
Fair enough. Were you nervous he was gonna crash?
Jason: Yeah, I was nervous about a crash.
Itsy, what was your favorite part?
Itsy: When Dusty won a race.
What other part did you like?
Itsy: When Skip learned to fly again.
Who was your favorite character, aside from Dusty?
Itsy: The girl.
Which one? Dottie, the truck?
Which other planes did you like?
Itsy: The Mexican one.
Jason: Yeah, me too!
How come you liked him?
Itsy: Because he spoke Spanish and I speak Spanish.
So what other characters did you like, Jay?
Jason: The bus, because it always drives fast.
Who did you think was the funniest?
Itsy: The girl, because she kept on kissing the Mexican plane. And the Mexican guy.
Did you like the planes being romantic?
Itsy: Not that much. It was silly because airplanes can’t like each other.
Jay, did you like that the airplanes kissed?
Jason: No, because I was eating popcorn a lot.
What does popcorn have to do with the kisses?
Jason: Jordan, it was icky.
Did any parts make you nervous?
Itsy: When in the tunnel, he was about to crash into the train. And when the movie stopped, I thought it was broken. [Ed.: The movie briefly turns to white during a near-collision; it’s emotional.] The part they could have changed was the white part, when we thought the plane crashed, so the people don’t get scared and think the movie was broken.
Was there any part that surprised you?
Jason: When the bumper got hurt. [Ed.: I have no idea what this means, but he’d know better than me]
Would you see a sequel?
Jason: The airplane already won first place. But I saw Despicable Me 2 when it was playing, so OK.
What did you like better, Cars or Planes?
Jason: I liked Cars AND Planes.