Film Review: Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films
Streaming on Disney+ 05.20
It’s both easy and common to dismiss light, kid-friendly, animation-based films and films released directly to streaming as unworthy of notice. Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, which premieres on Disney+ this week, illustrates just how much we cheat ourselves by taking this attitude.
An overtly meta live-action and animation mix, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers begins with the behind-the-scenes story of how the famous chipmunk duo met, became best friends and formed a comedy team, then going on to star in their hit ’90s series, also titled Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, which briefly turned them into superstars. Sadly, a falling out led to the cancellation of the series and the downward spiral of both of their careers. 30 years later, Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) is working in insurance, and Dale (Andy Samberg)—who has undergone CGI cosmetic surgery to stay looking young and hip—is hitting the convention circuit, signing autographs along with other cartoon characters who are past their prime. The two are brought back together when their old friend, Monterey Jack—amusingly portrayed this time by a very tongue-in-cheek Eric Bana—finds himself in trouble after falling in with the wrong crowd thanks to his out-of-control cheese addiction. When Monterey Jack goes missing, the furry former TV gumshoes must become real detectives in order to save him.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers owes a lot to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and essentially takes place in the same fictional universe as that film. While Rescue Rangers certainly isn’t as groundbreaking as that classic, the laugh ratio here may be even higher. In fact, the number of times I not only laughed out loud but had to pause the screener in order to do so without missing the next joke is higher than any other comedy in recent memory. Screenwriters Dan Gregor and Doug Mand (How I Met Your Mother) infuse Rescue Rangers with a hilariously goofy plot, clever dialogue and a steady stream of cameo appearances by other cartoon characters. The most surprising part of these cameos is how many are not Disney properties, and not since Roger Rabbit have we seen a meta pop culture comedy that went so far out of its way to base things around what’s actually funny, as opposed to merely plugging the studio’s existing intellectual property.
Director Akiva Schaffer (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) has both the visual flair and the comedic chops to make the movie soar, and it’s apparent that this is the guy who wrote the song lyrics for The Lego Movie. Schaffer and Samberg are longtime collaborators, and there’s a strong element of Samberg’s sense of humor at play. Chip is also molded expertly to work with Mulaney’s dry sarcasm, and the pairing of these two actors in these roles is inspired. They are expertly supported by a voice cast that includes J.K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett and Dennis Haysbert, while still making sure to include the original, core cast of the series. The balance between honoring the source material and being perfectly accessible to the uninitiated is remarkable.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a joy ride that will keep your kids thoroughly entertained while keeping you in stitches. I’ve already watched it twice and will probably do so again before Friday, and the amount of time I have to devote to viewing anything purely for enjoyment is so limited that I have yet to see Spider-Man: No Way Home a second time. This eye-popping, gut-busting knee slapper is likely to be among the most satisfying films of the summer movie season. –Patrick Gibbs