Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers premieres Friday, May 20 on Disney+.
An animated pop culture extravaganza, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a fast-paced, hilarious rollercoaster in a tornado of cartoonish characters, with clever gags, creative action, and enough heart and depth to let the story unfold.
Directed by Akiva Shaffer from Lonely Island, This is amazing The Rescue Rangers outing in particular is a meta affair, depicting the famous chipmunk BFFs as the actors who starred in the Rescue Rangers TV series decades ago. Now, it’s appropriately washed into an E! True Hollywood Story fashion (thanks to Dale’s solo career endeavor), Chip and Dale must bury the past in order to revive their friendship and save the day for real.
This mixed slice of live-action/animated absurdity is probably the closest we’ll ever get to following up on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and not just because Roger Rabbit himself pops up briefly. This is a world – to be more specific in Los Angeles – where humans and animation coexist, and where any animation appears as heavily in show business and movies as any other actor, except on the set of animation. It’s not a stretch by any means to imagine that this is what Roger Rabbit’s LA will be in 70 years.
Oh, and let’s not forget about La La Land’s unnatural belly, which is another noir-ish ingredient here, which helps with Roger Rabbit’s reflexes. Not everything in the world of animation is hand-drawn sunshine and computer-generated puppies. Criminal activities are in full swing, and when Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), Chip and Dale’s old star in the Rescue Rangers, goes missing, estranged friends gather to track him down amidst stinky cheese pushers, promoters of muppets fights, and a gangland run by smugglers. . No, alcohol is not prohibited – illegal animated films depicting kidnapped performers have been changed to look like imitations for foreign markets.
John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as Chip and Dale, respectively. Mulaney lends his turbulent analytical demeanor to the brainy Chip man while Samberg gives his child all as Dale, the exuberant man of the duo. Will Arnett is on hand as the villain (which makes this movie sound like a Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands reunion of sorts) while the rest of the voice cast features the distinguished efforts of Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, JK Simmons, and Tim Robinson. Original Rescue Rangers voice actress Tress MacNeille reprises her role as a tool while KiKi Layne looms large, literally, over proceedings as a rookie police detective helping our heroes solve a case. He’s a solid staff, capable of quick jokes—plus Seth Rogen’s well-placed piece (that includes his history in motion sounds).
It’s not the cast that warrants the majority of the attention, though – it’s the sheer shock of the IP conflict. Of course, this is not a new trick. In 1988 Roger gave us a Disney Rabbit with Warner Bros., mixed with King Features Syndicate, Fleischer Studios, and more, but studios were less likely to congregate and more open to engagement at the time, when animation as a whole was taking a bit of a hit. Now we have things like Ready Player One and Space-Jam: a new legacy giving fans their overhaul of crossover battle ownership to a degree we never dreamed possible. However, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Surprises is still on that front. With any project meta, there are going to be some tense attempts at humor, and this story isn’t entirely free of that, but for the most part, vague jokes and the use of cameo animations are about to fill the world with extended ideas rather than one-off eye rolls.
At the heart of this madness is the human story — or the squirrel story, really — two friends who put aside old differences and rediscover the spark that first made them friends. This arc doesn’t resonate as aggressively as it could, as the crotch-y world of mud cops, Coca-Cola polar bear minions, fan conventions featuring the likes of Lumière and Tigra, and other gags take precedence, but it’s still sweet enough that the film balances out and softens the tone. Bat sharpness, Mulaney and Samberg make some very funny banter. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s a much better, funnier, and more animated smorgasbord than some of its recent predecessors.