NEW TO DISNEY+! Based on the beloved Disney Saturday morning cartoon, director Akiva Schaffer’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers reimagining takes place in a world where the eponymous show exists. The kicker is Chip (John Mulaney), Dale (Andy Samberg), Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), Gadget (Tress MacNeille), and Zipper (Dennis Haysbert) are real-life animated people who were actors on the show. After three highly successful seasons, Dale takes the lead in a new series. This causes Rescue Rangers to be canceled and causes a rift between the best friends.
Thirty years on, Chip lives a solitary life selling insurance with his faithful pooch Millie as his only friend. Dale is struggling to hold onto the fame he once had, which is harder said than done since his other show was canceled before the pilot aired. But when Monty disappears, Chip and Dale are thrown into a mystery that could’ve been pulled from their show. Their journey leads them to uncover a bootlegging operation headed by Sweet Pete (Will Arnett). Can Chip and Dale put their grievances aside long enough to save their friend and discover the truth?
The trailer for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers features a scene where Dale tells Chip to don a disguise. It just so happens that they’re running through the vendor hall of a convention, and wouldn’t ya know it, Chip puts on an Indiana Jones outfit. Do you get it? For the cartoon, Dale was modeled after Magnum P.I., while Chip’s outfit is a riff on Indy. This has an aura of trying too hard.
“...Chip and Dale are thrown into a mystery that could’ve been pulled from their show”
But, in the context of the film itself, this moment slays. Without spoiling too much, the scene works because outside of an earlier taping of the series, it is the only time Chip is in his iconic Rescue Rangers costume. As such, the joke transfers from solely being an on-the-nose wink to the character’s inspiration to finally being in the jacket and fedora and thus recognized as a member of the Rescue Rangers. It’s a great gag that a trailer cannot adequately convey.
Happily, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers has more to offer than just better-than-expected punchlines. The blend of live-action, 2-D animation, CGI, puppetry (seriously), and stop motion is very well done. In one scene, there’s 2D Chip, 3D Dale, the stop-motion Gumby-esque police chief (J.K. Simmons), and real-life actors. It’s a staggering feat and looks incredible. The movie is so visually impressive that it’s a bit shocking that it went straight to Disney+ instead of theaters. Though the occasionally dark places the story goes and the offbeat sense of humor might have something to do with that.
Seriously, the plot swings for the fences in ways that will surprise most watching. This isn’t some indie production digging its heels at the soulless products the big studios churn out. Instead, this is a fully licensed, Disney-produced feature that puts its cartoon characters in what is essentially a human trafficking situation. Yes, there is something to be said about how the message is centered on keeping I.P. in its proper place, but that doesn’t deter the overall fun.
"…sight gags lampooning the film industry with irreverence but heart."