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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Cast: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Seth Rogen
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Director: Akiva Schaffer
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Platform: Disney+
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Stars: 3/5
With the current avalanche of ’80s and ’90s reboots, it seemed inevitable that pop culture would finally come around to two chipmunk crime fighters who refuse to wear anything below the waist. Back in 1989, Disney Afternoon was an animated block of series using reimagined House of Mouse characters such as DuckTales, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck. The block also included the legendary pair Chip and Dale in Rescue Rangers, a detective series. The series, which had a very popular theme tune, lasted three seasons before being scrapped. Rescue Rangers, while being consistently ranked as one of the finest animated programs of all time, has been off the air for over three decades, despite cameos in video games and other shows. After over a decade in production, Disney’s feature picture adaptation of Rescue Rangers is finally here.
Rescue Rangers begins with a fast origin narrative about how Chip and Dale met as toddlers before rapidly moving on to the pair’s ascent to popularity as TV stars until a falling out sent them their separate ways. Dale (Andy Samberg) works as an insurance salesman as an adult, while Chip (John Mulaney) works at fan conventions. Dale wishes for a comeback of their previous television show, but Chip just wants to go on. They quickly get embroiled in a missing person’s case being investigated by Ellie (KiKi Layne), a rookie detective who also happens to be a Rescue Rangers fan. Their inquiry deepens, drawing in old pals Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), Gadget (Tress MacNeille), and Zipper.
To rescue the day, Chip and Dale must overcome their schism. Chip and Dale are played by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, respectively. Mulaney plays Chip’s intellectual idea-man with an analytical, agitated manner, while Samberg gives his man-child all as Dale, the duo’s impetuous doofus. Will Arnett plays the villain (making this seem like a Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands reunion), while the rest of the voice ensemble includes Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, and Tim Robinson. Rescue Rangers embraces the TV program’s history while crafting a brand new plot in which these heroes apply what they learned on the show to solve a crime in the real world. There are blatant allusions to individual episodes of the original show, but they all have a narrative function rather than being thrown in for old-school fans.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers isn’t the first film to combine live-action and animation, fostering a meta-comedy adventure, but it’s a lot of fun and one of the cleverest uses of older pop culture trademarks in a long time. It pokes fun at the industry, but not in a tiresome manner. Rescue Rangers skewers everything and everyone in equal measure, with references to tons of Disney movies as well as other studios and blockbusters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Marvel, DC, Lego, Nickelodeon, Rick and Morty, Beavis and Butthead, Peanuts, The Simpsons, Masters of the Universe, Dragonball, and much more. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers succeeds as fantastic family-friendly humour, as well as the long-awaited follow-up fans, have been waiting thirty years for by merging self-referential and industry humor in a plot that takes satisfaction in acting as a tribute to a current classic series. Like Chip and Dale both state throughout Rescue Rangers, “the greatest risk is not taking any risk at all,” and this massive swing pays off with an innovative resurrection full of wonder and innovation.