Planes: Fire & Rescue review: Nippy, decently animated with a tidy script

Planes: Fire and Rescue
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Director: Roberts Gannaway
Cert: G
Genre: Animation
Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Danny Mann
Running Time: 1 hr 23 mins

Upon spotting a dedication to the brave firefighters of the world at the beginning of this unwelcome entertainment, the intolerant animation fan could be forgiven for upending their seat and making for the door. It's not as if Planes: Fire & Rescue has much else to recommend it. The world would have kept turning without a sequel to a spin-off from (by far) the worst films on Pixar's CV.

Like the first unnecessary appendage to Cars, the second Planes film – it's about talking aircraft, you know – has been delegated to the corner of the Disney empire that normally handles straight-to-video stocking fillers. It's as if the Mouse House is providing bootlegs of its own material. Now, on top of all this, the producers are trying to pretend the film has some serious intent. Get out of here.

The surprise is that the Planes films are not so bad. Nippy, decently animated with a tidy script, Fire & Rescue is probably better than the bloated, exploitative, indulgent Cars 2. At least one gag actually caused me to chortle audibly: "My wife ran away with a hybrid," one vehicle says sadly. "I never heard him coming." Get it? Oh, please yourself.

The plot is there in the title. Dusty Crophopper, former aerial racer, enters the world of firefighting after suffering a mechanical flaw. He meets the already expected collection of creaky veterans and cheeky young gas-guzzlers.


It might pass muster were we not, yet again, assailed by the unstable nature of the Planes/Cars universe. None of this makes sense. If the cars can travel on anthropomorphic trains (and they can), then why can't they travel in equally anthropomorphic planes? Who lives in all the buildings? Are the films set in some terrifying post-apocalyptic world in which all the humans have perished and bequeathed society to scooters and pick-up trucks?

My carburettor hurts.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist