Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers. A popular 90s animated TV series, which rebranded some of Mickey Mouse’s oldest friends as rambunctious detectives. The original series lasted for three seasons on the Disney Channel. Where two semi-clothed chipmunks ran a detective agency with two mice, one Australian & cheese-obsessed, and one blonde, subject of numerous crushes…
Oh, and there was also a housefly.
In the world of the newly released movie on Disney Plus, the characters were all just actors. Living and working in a society where humans and cartoons co-exist as equals similarly to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) were childhood best friends who fell out after Hollywood greed drove them apart. Years later, they both live very different yet lonely lives. Chip works in insurance and dotes on his pet dog. Meanwhile, Dale desperately clings on to his old fame, milking fan conventions and waiting for a reboot.
When their old friend and co-worker Monterey Jack goes missing, the pair are reunited. They discover a covert and ghastly plot that sees well-known and beloved animated characters (such as Roger Rabbit, Three Little Pigs and Scrooge McDuck just to name a few) get kidnapped, redrawn, and bootlegged to be sold overseas and forced into terrible off-brand movies.
You could argue that the writers – Dan Gregor and Doug Mand – put far more thought and effort into the specifics of one scene than most mainstream filmmakers would put into their entire movie. It’s stuffed to the edges with pop culture references, sight gags, and sneaky jabs at the industry and features a host of comedians as voice actors. It’s amazing what you can get away with under the pretence of irony. Which does make it honestly hard to tell just who exactly this movie is aimed at.
It’s also fun to watch Dale undergo surgery that makes him look more computer-generated. As well as an amusing sequence set within “uncanny valley,” where the duo encounter motion capture characters from the 2000s. One of the film’s absolute highlights though is a scene-stealing cameo from Ugly Sonic, the grotesque “realistic” version of Sonic the Hedgehog from the original trailer for the Paramount motion picture.
A lot of people were not particularly interested in seeing the movie. Mainly because they assumed it would be like Space Jam: A New Legacy, nothing more than a film used to boast a billion-dollar company’s success.
In a surprisingly welcome twist though, Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers is not only entertaining but also wildly imaginative. Blending together characters and styles from all realms of animation into one fast-paced film that’s brimming with charm and callbacks to both animation’s past and future. Pause the screen at almost any scene, and you’ll see a frame filled with Live-Action, traditional 2D, CGI, Puppetry, Claymation, and 2D-3D hybrid styles embodied by a wonderfully diverse and memorable cast of characters.
The use of cameos in the film is certainly entertaining. But more importantly, they actually serve a purpose to fit the storyline and aren’t just a bunch of random appearances for the sake of being random appearances (looking at you, Space Jam). The blend of characters, both new and old, 2D and 3D, clay and puppet is definitely one of the most well-executed aspects of the film. Though that isn’t to say that every scene strikes gold, such as an obligatory rapping scene that in spite of being self-aware of how cheesy it is, still doesn’t stop it from being cheesy anyway.
However, one does wonder why Gregor and Mand chose Chip and Dale as the film’s leading duo instead of original characters like Roger Rabbit did. At its core, the main characters could have really been replaced by anyone and the story wouldn’t change. While cartoon fans are likely to be satisfied with the film, fans of Chip’N Dale may be left feeling disappointed by the film’s lack of authenticity for its leading duo.
If anything, die-hard Chip’N’Dale fans may be annoyed that the film acts like Rescue Rangers was the only project the characters ever did. Completely glossing over the fact that the duo had already spent decades appearing in numerous Mickey Mouse films. Yet, this history is completely redacted for the sake of this film’s plot.
With its plethora of movie industry jibes and references, this film certainly seems aimed at a savvy 30-something audience. But although not every joke will be comprehended by younger viewers, the multitude of Disney cameos and the frantic pace should ensure at least some kid-friendly fun. Is this the best cartoon movie ever created? No, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t a funny and often imaginative one.
The famous mouse mascot may not appear, but this film’s heavy use of satire shows that Disney isn’t always afraid to take the Mickey out of themselves.
What do you think of the Chip ‘N Dale reboot? Let us know in the comments below.