The latest Disney plus original movie Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers directed by Akiva Schaffer is a delightful and cameo-infused buddy cop adventure that, while not the most memorable movie, certainly is a lot of fun. By using a dynamic blended animation style and poking fun at the contemporary entertainment industry, the film solidly places itself as this generation’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and asks itself the question: how many reboots does the industry have left until it has fully lost its soul?
Much like films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? the film presents a world where animated characters exist alongside humans and share the same concerns and pressures that any person in the entertainment industry might have. To achieve this, the film makes phenomenal use of a blended animation style. Previous iterations of this style focused on blending 2D animation with live-action. Just recently films like Space Jam: A New Legacy and Ready Player One incorporated human and 3D-character interactions. Yet, Chip and Dale take this style further by successfully blending a wide variety of styles. In this version of LA, there are sock-puppets, claymation figures, hand-drawn characters, CGI characters, and the rather unsettling characters of the “Uncanny Valley” all of them seamlessly interacting with live-action characters in a way that is truly impressive.
One of the most exciting elements of this genre of “entertainment industry/blended animation” stories is that there is a potential for cross-franchise crossovers. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers do not shy away from them. In fact, it makes the best use of cross-franchise cameos in recent memory. There are surprise appearances by Shrek, My Little Pony, E.T, and even the infamous discarded design of Sonic The Hedgehog from Jeff Fowler’s movies. Sonic even has its eerie teeth back. My personal favorite is what seems to be Dobby the elf, from the Harry Potter movies, in a Gucci advertisement. All of these appearances make this dynamic world even richer.
Yet, even with all of this abundance of character appearances, the film doesn’t overwhelm audiences by becoming a cameo-fest. For instance, there’s a moment where the titular chipmunks drive down the freeway discussing their estranged relationship where all of the cameos and references are relegated to the billboards around the road. The cameos in the film don’t overwhelm the main story where, decades after the cancellation of the show Rescue Rangers, Chip, and Dale navigate their friendship as they try to solve the mysterious disappearance of their mutual friend and castmate, Monterrey Jack.
There aren’t big surprises in the script. Audiences familiar with crime stories will be able to quickly infer the plot. There are plenty of good laughs, most of them rooted in seeing legacy characters fully embrace the modern entertainment industry: like seeing Baloo and Lumiere at a convention. At times, though, the humor comes across as cringe-worthy. In addition, the film actively seeks to place itself as a spiritual successor of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by making references to its characters and even to its terrifying cartoon-erasing chemical, the dip. Yet, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers lacks the narrative depth and social commentary that its claimed predecessor achieved. There’s an adventure, mystery, a fair amount of chaos, and in the middle of its plentiful self-referential jokes, a nice tale of friendship that is a bit thin and doesn’t strike as one that is particularly innovative or memorable but is very enjoyable for audiences of all ages.
The performances by John Mulaney (Chip) and Andy Samberg (Dale) are the biggest highlights. Their chemistry and chaotic whimsy make their friendship the heart of the movie. In addition, the writing for their characters incorporates their distinctive comedic styles. Mulaney’s analytical approach to social situations and Samberg’s goofiness is quickly transposed into Chip and Dale and make the transition to listening to the characters, as opposed to listening to the comedian behind the microphone, quite easy. The rest of the cast, which includes J.K Simmons, Keegan Michael-Key, Seth Rogen, and Will Arnett all deliver solid performances. In addition, Kiki Layne’s performance as Ellie Whitfield is charming, yet her character would’ve benefited from additional screen time and depth beyond her fandom of the titular characters to fully show Layne’s acting capabilities.
As the tagline of the movie states Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers is not a reboot, it’s a comeback. It doesn’t try to re-imagine the Rescue Rangers but rather is a joyful movie that pokes fun at the contemporary entertainment industry with a familiar story that might not be the most memorable but that makes for an entertaining watch, and that presents itself as one of the best contenders in the field of blended animation movies.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is now available on Disney+. Watch the trailer below.