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Planes: Fire & Rescue

By DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published July 18, 2014 at 6:00 a.m.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

71 Cast: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Cedric The Entertainer, John Ratzenberger, Barry Corbin, Regina King, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Fred Willard, Patrick Warburton

Director: Roberts Gannaway

Rating: PG, for action and some peril

Running time: 83 minutes

Planes is the Disney stepchild few animation fans want to discuss in any detail. It lacks the endearing characters and finely wrought storytelling of the Pixar films like The Incredibles and the Toy Story trilogy, and it could sure use a showstopping song from Broadway tunesmiths like Frozen's "Let It Go."

Planes and its obligatory sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, serve as an unwelcome reminder that any sort of tedium can get dumped on the public as long as it's on budget and age-appropriate. The parental bonuses, or jokes only grown-ups will get, aren't that amusing and might require a difficult conversation with the young ones afterward. When a fuel truck (Brad Garrett) boasts, "I've got gas," that's about as witty as Planes: Fire & Rescue gets.

The new film has former crop duster Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) mulling over his destiny when he discovers that his gearbox is now too worn for him to race anymore. Before he can spend time lamenting that his glory days are over, he answers another calling that may be even higher than racing glory.

His town's aging fire truck, Mayday (Hal Holbrook), is simply unable to handle any blazes that might arise, so Dusty volunteers to learn blaze busting from the experienced helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris).

From here the plot mirrors the previous film, so there isn't much in the way of suspense or novelty. At least the sight of simulated forest fires is more fun to look at and marginally more entertaining than an uneventful race.

Roberts Gannaway has spent most of his career at Disney doing straight-to-video sequels like Stitch! The Movie. He doesn't bring anything new or interesting to the Planes saga and, worse, squanders some formidable voice talent in the process. It's a waste to cast gifted improvisers like Fred Willard and John Michael Higgins if they're only hired to recite the tepid script.

It's commendable of Disney to make a movie that honors the heroism that firefighters display every day on our behalf. It's too bad they couldn't have made a good one.

MovieStyle on 07/18/2014

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