DisneyToons Flying High with Touching Planes: Fire & Rescue

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Planes: Fire & Rescue

DisneyToon Studios (not Disney*Pixar, as would be an easy mistake to make) brings us the next installment of PLANES -- set in the world of CARS -- with PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE. Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) continues to make a name for himself as a world famous racing plane, which makes his small airport town of Propwash Junction a tourist mecca as the annual Corn Festival approaches.

But during a routine training session with his coach, Skipper (Stacy Keach), Dusty experiences an irrepairable mechanical failure. If he pushes himself to maximum torque any more, he risks his engine flaming out entirely -- and the part that's failing is out of production.

Despondent, Dusty sets out to prove the diagnosis wrong, and ends up making a clumsy landing that damages a part of the airport and subsequently causes a fire. When aging firetruck Mayday (Hal Holbrook) is later investigated by the TMST (which either means Transportation Safety Management Team or This Means Serious Trouble), the airport's certification is pulled for non-compliance. With the airport closed, the tourists can't come to Propwash Junction. The only way to get re-certified is to add another firefighter to the force -- and Dusty volunteers to get certified.

What follows is about an hour of the most beautiful scenery ever committed to animation. As Dusty makes new friends -- Dynamite (Regina King), Windlifter (Wes Studi), and Lil' Dipper (Julie Bowen) -- he undergoes intense firefighter training from their leader, Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), who closets a skeleton he doesn't talk about. Along the way, the team deals with a rampaging forest fire, a self-important bureaucratic forestry superintendent, and Dusty's reluctance to push himself in training. But when lives are at stake, sacrifices are made and audiences will find themselves glued to this story, even though they can predict the happy ending.

I particularly enjoyed the guest appearances in this film. It's always a pleasure to see the team of Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller in action, and they have a pivotal role in this film's climax. And while it's not voiced (or even official) can there be any doubt that the cherry-red racecar the forestry superintendent gets so excited to meet could be anyone other than the Piston Cup champ himself?

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE doesn't make light of the issue of fire fighting. Indeed, Director Bobs Gannaway includes a dedication to firefighters at the opening of the film. This isn't your typical "fire happens, charred faces ensue" cartooon. A scene where a firefighter's paint starts to blister and his structure buckle drives home the very real danger firefighters face.

Bonus features on this Blu-ray/DVD release include a hilarious short, "Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular" which finds Dusty and his friend Chug (Brad Garrett) filling in for a no-show daredevil crew at Leadbottom's (Cedric the Entertainer) air show, as well as the music video for Spencer Lee's touching theme, "Still I Fly." (Further bonus features are found on the Blu-ray disc of this release, which also includes the Disney Movies Anywhere digital version of the film.)

Previews on this disc include "Big Hero 6," "101 Dalmations" Diamond Edition, and "Frozen" Sing-a-Long Edition.

4.0 / 5.0