This sequel to 2013’s “Planes” begins where the last one left off, with Dusty Crophopper (Cook) flush with success from his round the world race. He’s a champion but a mechanical malfunction is about to put an end to his racing career. His gearbox is shot and no replacement can be found. Looking to change careers, (and help save his local firehouse from being shut down), Dusty takes a crash course in wildfire air attack. “They fly in when other fly out.” Training under rugged fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) Dusty’s new skills are tested when a wildfire burns out of control.
It’s easy to see why kids love the “Planes” movies. They’re fast paced, the characters are cute-and-cuddly bigger-than-life talking machines, like Transformers for the preteen set and there are a surprising number of flatulence jokes. What’s harder to understand is what anyone over the age of 5 sees in them.
For every thing that works, like Julie Bowen’s sassy voice work as the flirty Lil’ Dipper, or bad puns that raise a smile (“Did you just fall out of a B-17? Cuz you’re the bomb…” “Oh, those pick-up trucks.”) there are many things that irk. Take for instance the monotone vocalizations of star Dane Cook who sounds even more bored by the story than I was or the musical montages that pad out the scant 75 minute running time.
Despite the action scenes, “Planes: Fire & Rescue” doesn’t feel like a big screen must see. The conquering adversity messaging is worthy enough, but the direct-to-DVD story never takes flight.