'Planes: Fire & Rescue'
Released barely a year after the first ‘Planes’ and boasting a running time that barely qualifies as feature length, ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’ was clearly conceived as a direct-to-DVD cash-grab, but couldn’t be released exclusively that way since that market dried up. Now the turd is coming out in theaters and painfully bored parents will pay the price. This is an embarrassing release from Disney that almost undoes the good will work scored from ‘Frozen’… almost.
Set shortly after the previous ‘Planes’ outing, Dane Cook’s super-speedy racing plane is immediately struck with a plot contrivance that prevents him from being able to fly at top speed. Why? Well, purely to concoct an excuse to have him join a high-flying fire and rescue service, of course. Aside from the usual beats in which the protagonist must prove himself against a grizzled doubter (this time voiced by Ed Harris), that’s pretty much all that happens in the movie. Cook can’t race, decides to be a firefighter, learns how, does it, roll credits. Without those credits, the movie barely cracks the 70-minute mark because the screenwriters and filmmakers simply have no idea what to do with this sequel, and at a certain point simply resign rather than wrapping anything up. The last ‘Planes’ movie was pretty atrocious, but at least coasted by on the borrowed “struggling outsider” Pixar template. This sequel barely even commits to that structure and is easily one of the emptiest family films produced in recent years.
The problems start immediately after the Disney logo with an irritating dedication to real life firefighters in a desperate attempt to lend the movie importance-by-association. Then, but a few seconds later, a horrible fart joke occurs to immediately undercut any accidental weight that dedication might have brought. From there, a parade of kiddie picture clichés are trotted out with such unmasked laziness that it’s almost admirable. If nothing else, you have to admire how the hundreds of digital artists managed to let a movie with so little content, plot, charm or meaning slip by without ever calling “Bullshit.” It feels like a movie produced purely to keep Disney’s staff of animators employed between major projects, and offers absolutely nothing of value beyond some expensive and glossy animation (which doesn’t make much impact when it’s presenting garbage in $100 million quality).
Not even the voice cast featuring the usually dependable likes of Ed Harris, Brad Garrett and Fred Willard adds any spark or energy. Even Dane Cook, desperately clinging to the last threads of his acting career, can’t be bothered to put in any effort. At times, it feels as if the cast and crew all got together before production and said, “Look, we all know this is crap, but we all have mortgages. Let’s just get through this as quickly as possible so that we can move onto the point in our careers where we pretend this never happened.”
By the time ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’ mercifully comes to a close, the movie somehow manages to hit an all time low for Ed Harris’ career, Disney’s animation department, AC/DC music licensing, and even fart jokes. Now, let me make something perfectly clear: I love all four of those things independently. However, it’s painful to watch so many talented people go so wrong. There’s no pleasure to be found in this movie whatsoever. Even if you’re an overstretched parent looking for a 70-minute cinematic babysitter, don’t even consider forcing this mess onto your kids. I’m sure that somewhere in the distant future, studies will reveal that the generation of children who saw ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’ went on to deliver the worst SAT scores in recorded history. Please, for the good of the nation, don’t let your children be part of that statistic.