Disney continues to expand its Cars universe with the follow-up adventure for last year’s favourite flying hero Dusty Crophopper. But whereas Planes preached an unrestrained ‘Be all you can be!’ Planes: Fire and Rescue addresses what happens when your dreams don’t deliver.
Fire and Rescue picks up shortly after the original storyline showing Dusty, the crop-duster turned racer, winning events all over the globe. However writer Jeffrey Howard thought it worth considering what would happen if a workhorse plane actually pushed itself to win that much. An examination of Dusty’s engine reveals a severely damaged gearbox. News that the failing part is now considered rare means our hero’s racing career is at an end.
Struggling to plot a new course, Dusty heads to Piston Peak National Park where he hopes to be trained as a firefighter. There he meets a crew of experienced fire and rescue vehicles charged with preserving the wilderness as well as keeping its inhabitants safe. Dusty’s disabled engine and his racing regrets hamper his ability to fit in. However a monster fire forces him to realise that serving others might be better than a super-charged career.
Fire and Rescue has a fairly predictable plotline centred on the usual crowd of after-market characters. The most recognizable is the wounded mentor, a role filled by Doc in Cars, the Skipper in Planes and now Blade Ranger, the helicopter with a dark past. But Disney knows its market and the film is still likely to please littlies even if their parents suffer a severe case of déjà vu. One thing that has improved, though, is the film’s message.
Planes celebrated the individual’s right to become, “…more than we were built for!” It was an argument that left me feeling more than a little uncomfortable as a Christian. It’s one thing to rise above your circumstances, another to entirely disregard your design. However Fire and Rescue actually asks kids to consider how they will respond when the dream slips away. Producer Ferrell Barron calls it a classic ‘injured athlete’ story. “I think we’ve all experienced some kind of loss at some point in our lives,” he says. “We’ve all had to recalibrate.” Not surprisingly Blade Ranger has been there too and he challenges Dusty to keep his eye on his destination, even though the path ahead seems almost impossible:
“Life doesn’t always go the way you expect it. But you came here to become a firefighter. If you give up today, think of all the lives you won’t save tomorrow.”
His encouragement is the same sort the writer of the letter to the Hebrews offers all hard-pressed Christians,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Dusty doesn’t get his dream, but he begins to realise there might be an even brighter one ahead, peopled by those who’ve been through the same struggles and come to love what he loves. In a world where unbelief will dog or even block our children’s steps, it’s a lesson they’d do well to learn – even from a talking plane.
Release Date: September 18, 2014