Take a Drink: every time you hear a cheesy one-liner
Do a Body Shot: when you first hear Julie Bowen say Missssss. Sexy.
Grab a Guinness: when you witness the first forest fire
Down a 32 oz: when you realize Dane Cook has the chops for voicework. Still, sounds weird.
By: Jake Turner (Three Beers) –
The B-movie has examples in every genre. In the world of Disney, Planes became their B-movie to throw into theaters and entertain kids for a brief running time. I’m happy to report that Planes: Fire and Rescue was a large improvement over its predecessor.
When I saw the original, it looked like it had Direct-to-DVD painted all over it with its uneven pacing and a storyline that we have seen over and over again dragged from the pool of inspiration, but then something strange happened in the second half; I began to enjoy it. I realized, though, that it wasn’t the film, but the atmosphere. I had to watch in the realm of grandparents, little kids, and parents taking the day off to take them to a movie.
After walking out, I found it was Disney comfort food, tasting good for a cheap price and perfect for dozing off later.
Like this kind of theater experience.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Dane Cook was an appealing lead. Wow, that felt weird. Cook failed as a leading man in comedies meant for 2 am on a Saturday night with Good Luck Chuck and My Best Friend’s Girl, and in Planes he was out of his element again.
Fire and Rescue was tailored to his improvement in voice work. The story was in fast food mode with its firefighter focus and underdog story premise once again. Cook was able to bring emotion and heart to Crophopper this time and ditches the jokes. I wouldn’t doubt if this isn’t the last film he does for Disney.
I give you the new, improved Dane Cook (my mind is blown).
The supporting voicework was excellent, especially when the story focuses on the future for an veteran firefighting engine. Crophopper’s gear box is damaged and because of his age, it’s immensely difficult to find one. Meanwhile, after a fire at the shop goes horribly wrong, Propwash Junction is in danger of being shut down and it falls on Mayday (respectfully voiced by Hal Holbrook) to save it. They need a second firefighter and Dusty heads to join the Smoke Jumpers, led by Blade Ranger (Ed Harris). It’s ironic that this is tailored to revolve the supporters’ backstories around the lead. Blade Ranger has a past and pulls off some nostalgic 70’s television references for the adults to chuckle at.
Also, we thankfully hear again from the likes of Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, Wes Studi, and what a treat to hear from real life husband and wife Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld) and Anne Meara (Archie Bunker’s Place).
Awe-inspiring animation kept my attention, especially when you witness the first forest fire that the Smoke Jumpers fight. You can see the precision and realism in each scene. Director Roberts Gannaway has a more grounded feel with the story, focusing on the action in the air with them dropping fire retardant (known as PHOS-Chek) and on the ground from the tree cutting to clearing the wildlife and setting up a perimeter. I won’t lie, you’ll get goosebumps.
Alas, they pack too many side-stories into such a brief running time of 77 minutes. We have Crophopper’s gearbox damaged, Blade Ranger fighting his sadden past, trying to stay off “The Wall”, fighting forest fires, AND… a slick park superintendent who’s more concerned with profit for a resort than saving people when a forest is on… FIRE. Seriously, if you are above the age of 25, you’ll be flabbergasted by the short stack of side-story. Take a note on how to do ONE side-story and see 300: Rise of an Empire.
I understand this is a kids movie, but if writer Jeffrey Howard wants to make this appealing he shouldn’t go for lowbrow one-liners and masochism against female characters. I credit the talented Julie Bowen (Modern Family) for showing charisma and her fast-talking persona making Lil’ Dipper, one of the Smoke Jumpers, appealing even though she comes off clingy right when her eyes target Dusty. There’s manipulation about dating, marriage, and she even watches when he sleeps. I feel like I just walked into Fatal Attraction territory for a moment there. Come on, we know that all women aren’t clingy or have use the right eye tick to show a sign of cracking emotionally. As a man, I found it disrespectful.
Take notes on how to do bar chat and make it likable. Hey, Cliff. You’re a Disney staple!
Planes: Fire and Rescue was a big improvement upon the original with its spectacular animation, solid voice work, and a short running time that flies over its problems with precision and focus on firefighter dedication. This is the right kind of late summer fun for families.