The sequel to the 2013 film Planes, a spin-off of Pixar's Cars franchise, Planes: Fire & Rescue has such a flimsy plot, it never really gets off the ground. Opening areawide on Friday, the animated film has some great characters in it, but the story takes so long to take flight, the film is likely to bore both kids and the adults they drag with them to see the flick.
The movie starts with a scene in which notorious air racer Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) starts to have trouble with his engine. He learns the transmission is shot and can't be replaced. He can still fly; he just can't push the envelope like he wants. As a result, the heads up to the mountains to be tutored by veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), a former TV star who's devoted himself to fighting fires in a rather remote mountain range where fires seemingly break out on a daily basis.
There, he meets a motley crew that includes Lil' Dipper (Julie Bowen), Windlifter (Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (Dale Dye) and the Smokejumpers (Regina King, Corri English, Bryan Callen, Danny Pardo and Matt Jones). He realizes fighting fires ain't that easy, especially with the hard-ass Blade Ranger constantly criticizing his tactics.
The movie really stumbles out of the gate but starts to pick up steam as Dusty becomes more adept at zipping through mountain passes and loading up with water fro the lakes and rivers. Ultimately, the crew has to fight a huge fire and Dusty is put to the test. But it's almost too little, too late. There isn't enough suspense building up to the climatic firefighting scene. Most of the jokes are of the slapstick nature, and the dialogue won't do much to entertain adults. Featuring a few throwaway songs from country singer Brad Paisley, the soundtrack doesn't have much going for it (though we did love the use of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" in one early scene) either. The film's animation looks great (especially in 3-D) but that hardly redeems the movie.