Planes: Fire and Rescue
Christian Movie Review & Kid’s Activity Sheets
Dusty Crophopper, that amiable and courageous crop duster plane turned racer, is back for another fly-by, but this time the Cars/Planes universe veers into an interesting new direction: the life and times of planes involved in fighting forest fires. This topic is of particular interest to me because there were four very large (thousands and thousands of acres) forest fires that threatened my city over the course of two years. Four massive wildfires in two years! Seeing the planes swooping in and dropping water up close always made me wonder what flying those planes was like. Planes: Fire and Rescue gives audiences a chance to find out — Disney style, of course.
Besides the movie review, this article features a special interview with the Emergency Services Manager over my city (Santa Barbara, CA) — basically the person who coordinates the emergency efforts, including the fire department, when a disaster like a wildfire hits our community. She gives some amazing advice for kids who want to be firefighters, and she offers some great safety tips for summer camping.
And, at the end of my review, there are some free Planes: Fire and Rescue activity sheets for your kids: a maze and a coloring page!
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity: None.
Violence/Gore: Planes and helicopters experience some violent/intense crashes and one character gets singed by the fire, though the Cars-style animation makes it very different than live-action and easier for kids to handle. It can be intense, but the animation and the fact that it’s talking vehicles — not actual people — softens the blow.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: None.
Frightening/Intense Content: Besides a few vehicle crashes, the wildfires are intense, especially when characters are threatened by it. However, most kids should be able to handle it.
(review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
Audiences have become accustomed to animated movies playing to two crowds at the same time: silly kid humor and easy-to-follow plots for the younger viewers and adult jokes slipped in that go over the heads of kids but make the movie fun for adults too. Some of the dark, sophisticated plots of recent animated movies (I’m thinking movies like How to Train Your Dragon 2) give the impression that they were shooting for a Best Picture Oscar trophy when they wrote the story.
This Planes sequel shoots more for the kids side of things and less for the adults as far as plot sophistication. Adults will see all of the plot twists coming from a mile away, but that’s okay. Despite the predictable plot turns, this movie won me over in three ways:
- Its wonderful flight animation that dazzles the eyes whenever the characters are in the air.
- The powerful portrayal of characters bravely rushing into extremely dangerous situations and willingly sacrificing themselves for each other and for strangers was actually very moving.
- The highly detailed depiction of how a fire and rescue team operates was fascinating. You can tell they did their research. I learned a few things. I found it interesting, for example, how they would use natural landscape features, like creek beds and rocks, to create natural barriers for the fire. They approach fires with almost a military strategy. It was interesting to watch.
I personally appreciated, as an adult, the references to the throw-back TV show Chips as well as a very sly, hilarious reference to a commercial that used to air in California back in the day for the lawyer Larry Parker. (“Larry Parker won me 2.1 million!”)
There’s absolutely nothing to object to in this movie, as far as its edifying content and worldview. It’s intense with the fires, but not too scary or dark for the kids, and it’s a great choice for them because of the inspiring themes of self-sacrifice and the educational elements. I would strongly recommend this film for kids because of these reasons. Adults won’t find any sophisticated surprises in the plot, but they’ll enjoy the superb animation and the tear-jerking themes of determined, loving self-sacrifice that lie at the heart of the story.
Some Tips for Kids Who Want to Become Firefighters
I had the great privilege of interviewing through email Yolanda McGlinchey, the Emergency Services Manager for the city of Santa Barbara, CA, a city that is very familiar with the threat of wildfires in the mountains that border it. She explained what it takes to be a firefighter and what things are involved that people don’t always realize, and she offered some great safety tips for families who plan to go camping this summer:
If you want to become a firefighter, you need to stay in school. Firefighters are constantly learning. You also need to become proficient in reading and writing because firefighters are in class a lot. Lastly, eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep because firefighters are extremely hard workers.
Here are some wildland tips when you’re camping with your family:
1. Don’t play with matches
2. Report any sign of smoke or fire
3. Make sure that you put your fire in an approved fire pit
4. Be aware of surroundings
5. Keep an emergency first aid kit
Thanks for the great tips, Yolanda!
For The Kids…
(Disclaimer: the activity sheets were provided by the studio, and I was given a free pass to an advanced screening of this movie, but these things do not influence the content/outcome of our reviews. For more info on our affiliate policy, click here.)