After deciding that Disney’s Planes wasn’t going to go straight to DVD anymore, a franchise was born and the world of Cars was expanded upon even further. Not that you asked for that, but you got it anyways, just like Cars 2. This time around, the intent was to put this film in theaters so the production value should be better, but Disney likes to play it safe sometimes and just keep repeating the same stuff. So, how do the Planes fare a second time around?
Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) has taken the world by storm and his flying abilities have earned him the title of “world champion”. Along with his buddies Chug (Brad Garrett) and Dottie (Teri Hatcher), Dusty becomes a hero in his small town and is set to put on a show for an upcoming event. However, Dusty learns the hard way that his engine is failing, when he crashes into some oil drums and starts a fire that isn’t so easily put out.
With the town in panic, Dusty has to own up to his mistakes and accept that he may never race again. In the meantime, the town needs a second firefighter and Dusty volunteers to go train to get his license, in order to help his town thrive. He’s met by Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), Lil’ Dipper (Julie Bowen), Maru (Curtis Armstrong), Mayday (Hal Holbrook), Windlifter (Wes Studi), and even an evil resort manager (John Michael Higgins). It may seem easy, but putting fires out is not as simple as Dusty thinks and he sees firsthand the sacrifice that being a Firefigher requires.
Planes: Fire & Rescue rises from the ashes of its predecessor and manages to be a bit better (which wasn’t necessarily difficult). The film is a nice honor to the men and women firefighters in our country, but it also is an odd one that gets caught up in odd characters that you don’t necessarily care about. It feels similar to the first film and there’s more exploration of Plane mechanics that will fly far above children’s heads. “It’s not bad, but it’s just caught somewhere in the middle”, exclaims the 18-year-old about the film for kids.
I really did enjoy discovering more about how wildfires are put out and the film does a great job of highlighting all the different jobs that the firefighters perform to contain and defeat the fires. The film focuses heavily on the sacrifices that they make and the fact that not every firefighter makes. It’s also stressed that while everyone flees from the fire, these men and women go into it to try to save lives and the forests and there are a lot of great messages that reflect the firefighters of our world and how much they sacrifice for people that they don’t even know. In some respects, this film is a great tribute to them that will cause you to take a moment to thank those who you don’t know.
There was a lot of world building in this Planes film and it reminded me of the Avengers in a few ways. We already know that this world is inhabited by Cars and Planes, but we see Boats and Trains come along in the film and I was waiting for a cameo from Samuel L. Jackson. We also see that Cars and Planes love to vacation and go stay in resorts and go on romantic getaways. We learn that there are a ton of jerks in the world that only care about money and appearance and will risk the lives of others in order to achieve what they want. So, this film is just another parallel of human life on Earth and all the interesting characters we see in our own lives. The animation is still great and there are quite a few really cool sequences involving the Fire & Rescue crew that are only made better by Thunderstruck playing in the background.
For a PG film, there were a ton of sexual innuendos and awful caricatures in this film that I noticed all throughout. I know that most kids films have some jokes, but there are a ton and it was kind of off-putting for me. The Native American helicopter speaks English sometimes and then goes off on a broken-English story and has a bald Eagle screech in the background. All the trucks at Honkers (Hooters knockoff) are uneducated, have few teeth, and are displayed as slobs. You also can’t forget the only car that gets detained as a joke and of course he’s a tricked out car that’s the epitome of a black stereotype if I’ve ever heard/seen one. The film never bats an eye about it all and maybe it’s just me, but I took issue with that.
Again, I get this is a kids movie and it’s certainly not made for me, but the logic in these Planes films defies me. This crop-duster is somehow the fastest plane in the world and he beats a plane with the same move every time. Of course, he must go through a challenge in life and discover himself by putting others before him. It’s the typical Disney story arc, but I don’t buy it with this world-class crop-duster. You know exactly what will happen in the film and there’s never any surprise, because you saw similar things happen with Lightning McQueen (which makes sense, because the first film was practically Cars). Rather than focus on the firefighting planes, helicopters, and cars, we have to spend time with the obnoxious Dane Crophopper.
For what it’s worth, the kids at my screening had an absolutely wonderful time, as they laughed, cheered, and whimpered all throughout the movie. There are jokes a plenty that are geared towards the kids and the characters are cool and cooky enough to have the kids heavily involved with what’s going on. For the parents or siblings taking young kids, you’ll probably laugh at some of the adult jokes and situations, especially all the human things that the film turns into Plane and Car things. Fortunately, this film goes by in a flash and is much more bearable than the last one, so fear not! Plus, Julie Bowen makes the film that much better. However, there’s still one more Planes film to go…
Planes: Fire and Rescue Trailer