Planes: Fire & Rescue

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2

Disney animated action/comedy, with the voices of Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Curtis Armstrong, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi, Brad Garrett.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he joins forces with fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, the Smokejumpers, to battle a massive wildfire.

PREVIEW REVIEW: First joke in the film: the fuel truck says to the other trucks, “I’ve got gas.” That worried me. Was the humor going to be crude as well as sophomoric? Then there was the concept: a film about inanimate objects given life and eyeballs doesn’t, well, fly for me. Then I remembered being disappointed in the first in this series about Dusty, a crop-dusting plane who dreamed of competing in a famous aerial race. The first few minutes of this sequel seemed more suited to a straight-to-DVD release. And considering how long it took the little ones in the audience to settle down, I gather they thought so, as well.

Since the concept worked for cars, Disney thought it could bring the same magic to airplanes. Seems logical. But some of the pistons in Planes misfired. There was so much dialogue, yet none of it sparkled. There were several ethnic groups represented, but most of them sounded like cartoonish stereotypes. The lead, voiced by Dane Cook, was downright dull. That had to be the biggest surprise. Who in the field of animation doesn’t know the importance of spot-on voice characterizations (best example – the 1966 TV-made Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Or more recently, each of the straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell adventures). And despite being shown in 3D, nothing of interest, including all the air-racing sequences, popped out at us.

I was quickly becoming disenchanted with this newest release from Disney’s Enchanted Factory. But I have to admit, almost immediately I was taken with the flying sequences. Disney’s artistry once again…soared. (Sorry, I’ve got that whole aircraft metaphor thing in my head.)

Once Dusty is among the firefighters, the film takes off (that’s my last one), with the story becoming substantial and the characters beginning to delight. While it lacks the ingredients that will satisfy older audience members such as can be easily found in Beauty and the Beast or WALL-E or UP, or a hundred other classic efforts from Disney Studios, Planes: Fire and Rescue is solid entertainment, especially for the wee ones.

The production contains themes such as the value and meaning of work; with faith all things are possible; and with friends every man (or airplane) is rich indeed.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Two crude jokes, which most likely will glide over the heads of the film’s main demographic.

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Some of the perilous fire-fighting sequences may spook little ones; mom or dad should be there to reassure.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 83 minutes
Intended Audience: Little kids and loving parents

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