Planes: Fire & Rescue

Story: When Dusty the racing plane can no longer race due to a gearbox that’s out of whack, he gets a second chance with a new job as a forest fire-fighting plane along with The Smokejumpers. Review: If there ever was a film with a more literal title that tells you exactly what you’re going to expect over the next hour and a half or so, it is this one.

With the movie seemingly set in a retro-looking America, Dusty Crophopper (Cook) is an over-zealous but underpowered single-engine plane who lives and loves to race. But he fries his gearbox during a warm-up for the Corn Fest race one day. Back in the hangar, Dusty is told by a mechanic plane that he can only hope to fly high without crashing to the ground if he keeps his ground speed below the red line limit as shown on his speedometer. And the glory of racing is now completely out of the question.

That’s as good as owning a Ferrari but driving below 25 km/h. Dejected Dusty is understandably frustrated at having his wings clipped, but gets a new lease of life (and a definite change of gear) with the aforementioned firefighters.

In the heavily wooded countryside, he meets the fire chief, a rescue helicopter named Blade Ranger (Harris), along with his jaunty and experienced team comprising Lil’ Dipper (Bowen), a heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (Studi), cargo plane Cabbie (Dye) and a motley bunch of highly excitable ground maintenance crew. While racing was risky, Dusty’s new job has its own hazards and involves a whole new set of skills that he picks up along the way while learning to adapt.

While the film is pretty to look at (the rendering of forest fires are pretty realistic), it’s not in the same league as a *Frozen*, *Shrek* or *Toy Story.* While the script is full of obvious and easy aircraft metaphors which are funny, it lacks the kind of witticisms and wisecracks that elevate other contemporary animated films so that they can be enjoyed by a much wider audience.

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