“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is roughly twice as good as its predecessor,
“Planes,” which was so story-and-laugh starved it would have given
“direct-to-video” a bad name. Yes, there was nowhere to go but up.
The sequel’s story is about something — Dusty the racing plane learns to be
a S.E.A.T., a Single Engine Ariel Tanker, a fire-fighting plane. For very young
children, it offers animated suspense and lovely and exciting animated aerial
footage of planes and helicopters fighting forest fires in the American West.
The characters are, to a one, stiffs. But bringing in Ed Harris (as a
no-nonsense trainer/helicopter), Hal Holbrook (voicing an ancient fire truck)
and Wes Studi ( a Native American Sikorsky Sky Crane chopper) classes things
And adults will catch the increased supply of one-liners, which will zoom
right over the heads of kids, especially in the scene set in a planes and cars
“She left me for a hybrid,” a pick-up truck moans to the bartender. “I didn’t
even hear’em coming!”
The story, such as it is, has Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) discover that his
antique gearbox has nearly given out, so he can’t race anymore. When, in his
grief, he causes a terrible fire at the Propwash Junction Airfield, he realizes
at least he can train to be a firefighter and help aging fire truck Mayday
(Holbrook) keep the field from closing. Dusty flies off to Piston Peak to train
with the team suppressing fires in a National Park.
Harris voices the hardcase captain of the team, Blade Ranger, a chopper.
Julie Bowen is a cute, flirtatious float plane, Studi milks a few funny lines as
the inscrutable Native American heavy-lift Sikorsky, and so on.
There’s more of a “Thomas the Tank Engine” feel to this sequel, with planes
and firetrucks and bulldozers doing the righteous work of dousing pretty
convincing animated blazes.
The conflict comes from the ambitious park superintendent (John Michael
Higgins), the profanity is all motor related (“Oh, Chevy.” “SHUT the Hangar
Door!”) and the pick up lines in the aforementioned honkytonk are real
“Did you fall out of a B-17? Cuz you’re the BOMB.”
Disney put more of a Pixar imprint on this than the first “Planes,” with
familiar voices such as John Ratzenberger, Fred Willard and Patrick Warburton
fleshing out the cast.
A couple of flight sequences take us over majestic deserts and amber waves of
grain — beautiful animated scenery. Other than that, there’s not much to this.
But then, you get the impression from all the “Cars” and “Planes” movies that
the box office and video rentals are not why Disney made them. Come Christmas
season, that much will be obvious.
MPAA Rating:PG for action and some peril
Cast: The voices of Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Teri Hatcher, Hal
Holbrook, John Michael Higgins, Wes Studi
Credits: Directed by Bobs Gannaway, written by Jeffrey M. Howard. A Walt