Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue was gritty yet uplifting. If you are looking for a (Xmas or Hanukkah or other solstice holiday or birthday) present for a young lad (or lassie, depending on her tastes), then this movie certainly fits the bill. There are relatable, sympathetic characters who maintain or earn their respectability by the end of the movie.
The main character, Dusty Crophopper, basically discovers a permanent injury that puts an end to his racing career. Instead of entirely giving up on himself, he decides to help his midwestern hometown out and keep the local airport open by becoming a fire and rescue plane. By doing so, he saves the slightly senile and seriously outdated firetruck from letting the town down and being deprived of his livelihood.
Dusty goes on an arduous and predictably character-building journey as he struggles with his new handicap and learns to control his flashy habits. He learns from a wonderfully stoic and tough-as-jerky plane called Blades who pushed Dusty to excel and grow. Blades gets horrifically injured. The lovely old couple almost die. Dusty pushes himself for the sake of others instead of his personal glory and saves the day. His hometown is saved and the entire town celebrates Cornfest. The fire team from the park perform quite a spectacular show for the festival. There is general merriment. As an appropriate and essential final scene, the horrific superintendent of the park gets happily demoted.
The main character grows from a flashy and rather immature racing plane into a selfless hero who is motivated to save lives. The entire story inspires an admiration for the entire set of people who willingly go towards very dangerous areas so that others might escape and helps any impressionable youngsters wrap their minds around how a person would end up with that degree of heroism. Certainly qualities that can benefit from encouragement.
I spent most of the movie waiting for a cliched romantic subplot to strike or the throughly and unapologetically American Midwest/Rockies vibe to start grinding down my own gears. To my delight, neither ended up occurring. I found the plot well-paced and the characters believably developed for a non-fairytale Disney cartoon. I enjoyed the balance between young upstart attitude, slightly jaded rust, and invitations to root for Dusty.
Despite my not-so-many years, I myself have been forced to give up dreams and plans. Starting from the drawing board and having the rug pulled out from under you is difficult to pull through no matter your age. Letting that struggle better one’s character and finding a path through the smoke instead of becoming sour, destructive, and stagnant is an example most of us can find edifying, not just the young upstarts.
Planes: Fire and Rescue is out now on DVD.
Written by Ana deSouza