Monday, August 12, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: Planes - Being More Than You Were Built For

Dusty is a crop duster, a plane built for farm work. But he desires so much more – he wants to compete in a world-class race. The plot is pretty similar to Turbo, which was featured here last week. Anyway, supported by a good group of friends, Dusty qualifies for the big race (like in Turbo.) There, he realizes that a famous racer that he’s long admired is actually kind of evil (like in Turbo.) But in the end, he overcomes.  There’s a difference, though – Turbo was snapped up at random, then he was miraculously given his powers to race, and he more or less triumphed by his own wishes and refusal to quit. Dusty overcomes with the support of his friends – some longtime friends, a mentor who had fallen and then redeemed himself, and some former enemies who wanted to make amends. The story is a little more palatable.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
Dusty undergoes some changes (in name and appearance) in order to fit into a new community, and eventually finds a way to be true to himself while also thriving in new situations. It’s not that strong of a connection, but some kids might resonate.

Strong Points
One of Dusty’s mentors has allowed Dusty to believe things about him that aren’t true. When Dusty finds out the truth, he acknowledges that he wouldn’t have sought him out as a mentor had he known the truth.  Dusty is disillusioned and the mentor is dejected; however, they reconcile when the mentor goes out of his way to help Dusty. What I like about this – so many kids in foster care have been let down by adults, and yet the kids are expected to go out of their way to give the adults a second chance. At least in this film, the adult figure is the one to make things right.  December Boys, anAustralian film featured on Adoption at the Movies several months ago, also did a good job of dealing with kids being disillusioned about a hero.

Dusty’s community is obviously happy for his success.

The film does suggest that it doesn’t hurt to try, and that failure isn’t final.

Dusty acknowledges his limitations, but wants to “prove that maybe, just maybe, I can do more than I was built for.” He overcomes limitations and fears to find success.

Dusty helps several of his competitors; he is a good sport.


The film seems to be patriotic. American military comes to the aid of Dusty when he needs help. I like that. On the flipside, the race is said to draw applicants from over 100 countries, and yet when the results are shown, the top four racers are all American.

Dusty makes a substantial change to his anatomy in order to succeed as a racer. It’s understood that the change is also significantly connected to his identity. (He lets mechanics remove his crop dusting mechanism in order to be able to fly faster.) A villain actually makes a point that was meant unkindly but can be helpful, “Bolting on a few new gadgets doesn’t change who you are.”

 Weak Points

One very slow character expresses, “I wish I had been separated at birth.” It’s played for laughs, but might be jarring to some viewers with a connection to adoption or foster care.

One character tells Dusty, “you’re sad, so drink.”

Young kids are going to like this one, but kids over 8 or so might find it boring. For that young audience, though, the messages are good: “With work, with bravery, and with help from your friends and parent figures, you can accomplish a lot.”

Questions for Discussion after the movie

If you could “Do more than you’re built for,” What would you do?

Dusty was lost – out of gas, and without his guidance system – but people came to help him, and he turned out OK. Have you ever known anyone like Dusty? Like the people who helped him?

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