Planes: Fire & Rescue is a safe but satisfactory kids’ pic about the art of fighting wildfires.
PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Bobs Gannaway). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
As animated movies go, Planes: Fire & Rescue is an economy flight, but one that will elicit few complaints.
There's little in the way of bells and whistles in the story, characters or visual design, which are all very basic and workmanlike. Yet the result is a safe and satisfactory kids' toon that does a fine job of tipping its hat to firefighters. That's certainly more than I expected from the assembly-line craftsmanship of a sequel to a spinoff of the Cars franchise.
Dusty (Dane Cook), the crop duster turned aerial racing champion, can no longer compete due to a faulty gearbox. He makes himself useful by training to fight fires with a crew based out of a Yosemite-like national park.
The new entourage is refreshing, since these machines don't pander to children by using silly voices that play on ethnic stereotypes. Ed Harris's disciplined Blade Ranger leads this relatively straight ensemble, giving Dusty brief lessons on teamwork that are actually quite convincing in the face of an immense blazes.
There's something noble in the movie's vivid treatment of wildfires, the methodical task of controlling them (obviously the most exhilarating scenes) and even in its adherence to precautionary safety protocol. The closest thing to a villain here is a park superintendent (looking a lot like a Cadillac Escalade) who disregards the fire code.
No, it's not as exciting as a dragon burning shit up, but it's a lot more entertaining than your average PSA.