Jennifer Rathwell: The Queen Of Screen


Family Movie Review: 'Planes: Fire & Rescue'

at least the kids will like it!

The whole family went to see a matinee of Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue. (In glorious 2D, because have you ever tried keeping the 3D glasses on a 3-year-old?) It was...OK. If you’re looking for an air-conditioned afternoon and a date with a big bag of popcorn, it will certainly do.

As a franchise, Planes isn’t the strongest offering DisneyToons has ever brought us, evidenced by the fact that the original film was meant to be a direct-to-video release. Fire & Rescue is clearly crafted for the theatre experience, with richer colour and the stunning I-can’t-believe-that’s-animated visuals that Disney-Pixar has made a hallmark. But the Planes movies always feel like...kiddie fare. 

Fire & Rescue actually moves swifter than its predecessor, and due to a “medical” (mechanical? What’s the right term for anthropomorphized machinery?) issue, our hero from the first film, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), finds himself off the racing circuit and training to be a firefighter in a beautiful wooded national park. This is likely because the supporting characters from the first film were not interesting enough to be more than second banana on this outing. 

The new cast includes yet another tough-guy teacher, Blade Ranger (Ed Harris, who can voice the telephone book if he likes), as well as an amusing throwback to a familiar-looking TV show about two police helicopters in California (one voiced by Erik Estrada, hint-hint), which is clearly for those of us who drove the van to the theatre, and not the ones in short pants.

It’s pretty much trope city all the way to the endlessons are learned, characters evolve, the mighty (but poorly behaved) are put in their places, and after some dramatic tension, the requisite happy ending. No big laughs, nothing memorable, and not even a quotable line! My kids did manage to fight over the tiny Planes figure attached to their drink cups ALL the way home, so if you go, be sure to ask for the exact SAME figure for all the kids.

The 7-year-old’s review: “I liked it. It was better than the first one.”

The 3-year-old’s review: “I don’t like movieeees...can we go home?”

My grade: 2.5 out of 5 

Run time: 83 minutes

Looking for more family-friendly films? Check out these Top 5 Retro Classic Family Movies For The Cabin . . . Or Plane, Or Train, Or Living Room.