Director: Roberts Gannaway
Voices: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook
Age and a lifetime have no place in an animation, even though Up spared both a thought. These have even little place in the universe of Planes, which almost exactly a year ago was celebrating a young crop duster leaving fellow aircraft far down below with his soaring ambition. And yet, Fire and Rescue gives us Mayday, voiced by the one-and-only Holbrook, a firefighter truck that’s on its last legs. In a scene that breaks your heart, Mayday steps up to put out a fire, fails miserably, sputters into his hangar — after missing the turn in — and breaks down silently.
That’s a story coming to an end there, and in Holbrook’s sad but reconciled voice, you wonder about all that the dusty truck, now more orange than red, may have seen. However, films are rarely made about stories coming to an end. Not surprisingly, Fire and Rescue is about the crop duster-turned-race winner from 2013, Dusty (Cook), getting yet another makeover. And, yes, it is a homage to all those “brave American firefighters who die saving strangers”.
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After Mayday’s failed attempt at fighting the fire, Dusty’s home airport, Prop Junction, faces a closure unless it gets a second, fitter firefighter. Since the fire was Dusty’s fault, and since an overworked gearbox is threatening to end his racing career, he decides to volunteer.
Mayday sends him for training and certification to his buddy Blade Ranger (Harris), the chief of fire and rescue at the Piston Peak National Park. As Dusty realises, there is never an idle day at the park with its numerous wildfires. The job of the Piston Peak air attack team (including some cleverly conceived worker vehicles, the muscleman workhorse that hauls them, and an amorous aircraft that pines for Dusty) is made tougher by the selfish superintendent of the park, named just Cad. The latter has been packing tourists in, ignoring safety warnings, to ingratiate himself to the ‘secretary of interior’.
Unlike the flat Planes, Fire and Rescue has more of a storyline, even if it’s largely predictable and packs in unnecessary details such as an old RUV couple on their second honeymoon. The fires are as fierce as any in a real film about real people, and Fire and Rescue appears serious about portraying the heroics of the men its planes represent.
You may wonder at the flying capacity of a plane that’s been put through so much crashes but, really, get over it. What did you expect? Instead, be grateful that the plane with the eyes for Dusty this time doesn’t have the sultriness of Priyanka Chopra.
Can you imagine a plane fighting a fire and fighting off all that heat?