I admit, after seeing Planes: Fire & Rescue, I kind of wanted a toy of one the retro park-ranger trucks, à la Glacier Park’s tourist buses from the 1930s. I would grab this truck, sit on the floor in the living room, rolling him across the carpet and narrating my own tales of the truck’s daily business in a National Park. Yeah, the truck was kind of neat.
But I don’t even remember the truck’s name. Nor do I remember the name of another truck I liked, who quoted the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) when an airport burst into flames. He was cool. I could park him next to the ranger truck, and he could cite him for regulatory infractions.
This just goes to show that the characters in Planes: Fire & Rescue certainly look pretty cool, and the film is nicely animated (if a bit scary, with all the wildfires), but it is also completely unmemorable. You’d do just as well to make up your own stories with the toys as try to remember anything particularly interesting about the characters in the film.
An airplane named Dusty (Dane Cook), may have seen his last days as a racer. He has a bit of a problem with his ticker (aka his engine). If he goes literally full throttle, his engine may quit, and he could “die” (aka crash). It is suggested that he try another career, that of aerial firefighting, so he goes to Piston Peak National Park where he falls under the tutelage of one veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter named Blade Runner (Ed Harris). The firefighting team is a motley crew of brave helicopters, sassy all-terrain vehicles, and spirited airplanes. When a wildfire threatens the park’s lodge, it’s up to the team to, well, put out the fire, and rescue all of the park’s guests!
Now, I’ve somehow not seen any of the Cars or Planes movies, so this was my first experience with anthropomorphized Disney-machinery. Much of the time, I could suspend disbelief that this world of vehicles exists without humans driving or operating them, but occasionally, I would have to say, “What the…?” For instance, one heart-tugging element is an old couple of RVs, who are celebrating their anniversary. They go to make out on the bridge where they first got together, and all I could think of was, “Now, are those two Winnebagos going to kiss? Do RVs have lips???” And my imagination drew a blank. Luckily, the movie didn’t show it. There is another character, an air tanker named Dipper (Julie Bowen), who aggressively expresses flirty/sexual interest in Dusty. She clarifies that she is a “Miss” not a “Mrs.” Again my brain just shut off and couldn’t go there. Planes can get married?
But I guess kids don’t think about that kind of stuff. Otherwise they will be surfing the internets for those weird, vaguely smutty pictures of trucks stacked upon each other.
Anyway, Planes: Fire & Rescue works mainly as an earnest, rah-rah commercial for firefighting, replete with AC/DC’s foot-stomping “Thunderstruck” rocking during one such montage scene. It is basically harmless; not really very clever, nor stupidly offensive. But I would like to point out one thing: A bunch of vehicles hanging out by a campfire while slurping on cans of oil seems like a really bad idea.