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The MovieGoer: Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue

alec vanderboom

I am genuinely shocked at how much my kids and I enjoyed watching this movie together! We have a tiny movie ticket budget and a family of seven. We're ruthless about the distinction between what movies we spend a fortune on to see in a theater and what movies we rent for $1 from Redbox. When we first saw the trailer, this movie didn't make the cut. Free press tickets to a premier made me change my mind--radically!

I love Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue because its a rare kid's movie that has layers of beauty. The animation is spectacular. The early flying shots remind me of the old films at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It's thrilling to have that sense of flight inside a quiet movie theater. The bulk of the movie takes place inside a National Park. The artistic landscape scenery is in itself, so inspiring, that I recommitted to someday, somehow, taking our entire family on a long deferred car-trip out West.

Do not attend this movie thinking that it is simply another "Cars 2." Planes: Fire and Rescue is a straight-up action flick with funny, one-line jokes thrown in. My nine year old son said he likes this movie because "It has both action and jokes. Those are my two 'things', and they are so rarely found together." I can't remember another kiddie flick that had genuine suspense built into the narrative. The fire-fighting scenes are real, without being overwhelming.  My 11 year old and 7 year old daughters left the movie saying "I never knew how serious a fire-fighter's job was before!" I'm sure our nightly prayers for the safety of first responders will be more intense during the next few weeks, and this from a family whose Grandfather was once a cop.

As a parent, I appreciate the subtle, non-preachy, values showcased in the story. Disney's publicity experts describe the film as showing "Teamwork & Sacrifice." As a Catholic, I'd rephrase those values as the virtues of obedience and perseverance. In this movie, a know-it all, show-boating newcomer has to learn how to follow the exact commands of his Team Leader in order to not risk either himself or others while fighting dangerous forest fires. It's hard to explain to a sullen kid that the daily grind of "eat your carrots, put on your seat belt, do your homework" is ultimately for the greater good. Against the dramatic backdrop of firefighting, this movie underscores the value of obedience. I'd cheerfully pay $50 for a family movie date that has my 9 year old son say unprompted "This movie shows the value in doing what other people tell you to do." Bingo!

We had the joy of watching this film with a bunch of real life firefighters and their families. I've never seen so many burly men laugh so hard in a movie. This is truly their world! At the end of the credits, there were thank yous to over 20 firefighter consultants. This attention to detail is what makes Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue more than simply an enjoyable 90 minutes spent in cool air-conditioning on a hot summer day. A children's film that makes you gasp in wonder, makes you belly laugh, makes you grasp another's hand in suspense, and makes you think deep thoughts on the car ride home, is the best kind of movie to share with your kids.