Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a film that seems to play on Disney’s desire to bring beloved characters from their history into the modern day. Filled with plenty of nostalgia and meta-jokes, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers follows the titular chipmunks as they are reunited after years away from stardom and fame with Chip working in insurance and Dale working the convention circuit in a desire to reboot his career. Filled to brim with familiar characters from Disney and beyond, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the biggest surprises of the year, bringing plenty of laughs and an all-star cast that makes this a must-watch.
The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer with a script written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand. Schaffer is known for his directing work with the Lonely Island, meaning that he is able to capture Mulaney and Samberg’s humour perfectly. The screenplay is filled with self-conscious jokes and humour that is expected of the Lonely Island, albeit toned down for the younger audience. That being said, there are moments when the film ventures into more mature and darker themes which can feel a little disjointed at times. For the majority of the film, there is a lightheartedness and self-awareness as the chipmunks are forced to live “normal lives” with Chip working in insurance and Dale attending conventions in the hope that he can reignite his career once more. Seeing the difference in animation style between the chipmunks is a funny inclusion as Dale undergoes “surgery” to make him appear CGI in a bid to be more exciting and modern, while Chip maintains his traditional animation style. There are plenty of jokes through the film and enough nostalgia to please audiences of all ages, making this a fun adventure for the family to enjoy.
Leading the cast are John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voicing Chip and Dale, respectively. The latter has worked with Schaffer as a member of the Lonely Island for many years, so it makes sense that Samberg would be picked as his and Schaffer’s humour is similar. This works well for the film as it feels as though Samberg is given more in terms of material and characterisation than Mulaney, although Mulaney makes the best of what he has. It’s undoubtable that Mulaney and Samberg have a great chemistry which it what drives the film and makes it so enjoyable to watch. The scene in which the two rap as a distraction to break into Sweet Pete’s sauna locker is hysterical and showcases the unique brand of humour that the Lonely Island promotes.
One of the major talking points of the film is the character, Sweet Pete. A variation on Disney’s iconic rendition of Peter Pan, Sweet Pete is a middle-aged version who has put on weight and has drinking problems after he is fired from Disney for getting “too old”. Pete now runs an underground bootlegging operation in which he forces former stars to feature in his bootleg films. While this may seem like a comical turn of events for such an iconic character, the appropriateness of Peter’s fate seems to echo that of the original Peter Pan voice actor, Bobby Driscoll, whose life was plagued by drinking and drug problems after Disney let him go when he grew up. Although this plot line seemed to look at the harshness of Disney’s contracts and the way they treated their talent, the way in which this particular character echoes the original voice actor’s fate seems a bit inappropriate, and it’s hard to believe that they weren’t aware of the history since this behavior is exactly what they are alluding to. Luckily, Sweet Pete isn’t in the film as much as anticipated, but it does bring the film into a darker territory that can feel uncomfortable at times and not reflect the same lightheartedness and quality that is present throughout the rest of the film.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a film that combines plenty of live action with various styles of animation. It’s tone and genre seems to be in the style of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and this is evident thanks to the array of homages that Chip ‘n Dale incorporates such as a cameo by Roger Rabbit as well as a moment when Sweet Pete is looking through his torture tools and has a bottle of Dip, which was a substance used in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to kill the toons. Nowadays, it’s common to see films that combine live action and animation so while Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was innovative and new for its time, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers brings in new styles of animation such as CGI which wasn’t available when Roger Rabbit was released. That being said, the various styles of animation can be overwhelming and chaotic at times, especially when there are numerous characters on screen.
While there are elements of the film that venture in darker territory that can feel uncomfortable such as the allusions to drug and alcohol abuse throughout. However, the other content in the film is enjoyable to watch, making it surprisingly entertaining, while the various animation styles used seems to reflect the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 30 years before. Although Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers may not have the longevity that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has, it’s still an enjoyable watch from beginning to end, thanks to the lovable performances provided by Andy Samberg and John Mulaney in the titular roles.
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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is available to watch on Disney+ now!