Beloved late 80’s/early 90’s cartoon Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers may not seem like the first choice in material for a subversive/meta takedown of reboots and pop culture in general. But writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand apparently had different ideas. For those who don’t know, Gregor and Mand worked on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and How I Met Your Mother. Gregor and Mand combined their ideas with the genius of the Lonely Island crew. (Akiva Schaffer directs while all 3 appear in the film). Together, they made Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers a studio/genre-bending masterpiece. It’s the first true successor to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (who coincidentally also cameos in the film).
The film takes place in a world where multiple types of lifeforms, be it human, animal, animated, felt, CGI, etc, all exist in the same time and space. We first meet Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg). As outsiders in their school, they become best friends. Fast forward to the “set” of Rescue Rangers (yes in this world the pair are actors playing characters, not just characters). There, Dale decides to strike out on his own which ultimately brings an end to the show and the duo’s friendship.
Thirty years later, someone abducts Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) and the pair must join forces with a detective Ellie (one of the few human characters in KiKi Layne). They must save Jack from the nefarious Sweet Pete (Will Arnett) and his henchmen. The first of these henchmen is a dwarf with “Polar Express” eyes straight out of Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf named Bob (Seth Rogen). The other is a Coca Cola Polar Bear named Jimmy (Da’Vone McDonald). Jimmy plans on making alterations to their friend so that he can appear in bootleg versions of popular animated films.
Gregor and Mand’s script is pretty ingenious, it’s basically a reboot of Roger Rabbit but with modern ideas and just enough original ideas that the entire film feels brand new. Schaffer directs the film with an infectious manic energy. He will have audiences panning every inch of the screen for hidden cameos and jokes. Of course the film is packed wall to wall with jokes. One of my favorites includes the blink and you’ll miss it “Fro-Zone Frozen Dinners”. The other is the “Vote for Senator Butthead” bench sign.
Or McGruff the Crime Dog working the front desk of the police station and Randy Marsh of South Park in a sauna both having just visual cameos. These are just barely scratching the surface of what’s happening. Of course, the biggest and most amazing surprise has already been ruined by a lot of outlets. But despite my overwhelming urge to talk about it, I just can’t bring myself to ruin it for anyone. Just know that at around the 10-minute mark I was literally on the floor laughing my ass off.
Much like Roger Rabbit before it, the creators of Chip and Dale don’t just saddle themselves with the properties under Disney’s control. Although yes, there are more than enough Disney characters on board here. But it surprises us with characters from most of the other studios as well. We get to see combinations of characters here that audiences would likely never dream of. This is similar to what Roger Rabbit did over 30 years ago.
These characters especially appear in an ingenious chase through a ‘San Diego Comic Con’ style convention filled with guests of all styles. It also helps that the chemistry between John Mulaney and Andy Samberg is off the charts. The pair are obviously having a blast working on the film. The rest of the voice cast is also insane with the likes of Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key, J.K. Simmons, Rachel Bloom, and Tress MacNeille returning to voice Gadget and Chip.
The furious amount of jokes thrown on-screen run at a feverish pace, and while not everything lands it still hits a 90% success rate which is outstanding for a film like this. Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers is a reimagined property that has surprised and satisfied me. The last time this happened to me was the 21 Jump Street reboot. It’s just an absolute crying shame that Disney didn’t release this in theaters and took it straight to Disney+. Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers is easily one of the funniest movies of the year by far.
- Rated: PG
- Genre: Animated Comedy, Mystery, Reboot
- Release Date: 5/20/2022
- Directed by: Akiva Schaffer
- Starring: Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, Da'Vone McDonald, Dennis Haysbert, Eric Bana, Flula Borg, J.K. Simmons, John Mulaney, Jorma Taccone, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, Rachel Bloom, Seth Rogan, Tim Robinson, Tress MacNeille, Will Arnett
- Produced by: Alexander Young, David Hoberman, David Scharf, Todd Lieberman
- Written by: Dan Gregor, Doug Mand
- Studio: Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios