'Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers' review: Dynamic duo given hilarious, creative live action reboot
Courtesy of Disney+
A prominent staple in the Disney Afternoon lineup circa 1989 alongside “DuckTales,” and “Tailspin,” “Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers” lasted for three seasons and 65 episodes before its eventual cancellation through syndication and streaming rights helped amass a minor cult following. While “Rescue Rangers” might have loyalists, it’s not the type of widely acclaimed series where folks are clamoring for a full-length movie. And yet, in the realm of studios mining their vaults for any type of reboots, 2022’s “Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers” stands among the best: a rowdy, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” cross pollinated with the irreverent style and humor of “The LEGO Movie” that’ll give kiddos enough to nibble on and adults plenty to savor.
It helps comedic dream team Andy Samberg and John Mulaney are in the drivers seats voicing the title roles, but writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand keep the jokes and references (mostly targeted at the millennial crowd) spewing. Disney has spared no expense either, somehow convincing several studios to essentially loan out their characters for either quick cameos or to be the punchline of a major joke. The legal hoops and careful planning will probably be the subject of its own documentary sometime in the future. Whatever happens, “Rescue Rangers” is a meta take on the animated series while serving as both a backstory for our furry heroes and a mega fun detective caper.
Directed by Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer who clearly throws his Saturday Night Live sensibilities all over the place, “Rescue Rangers” gives Chip and Dale newfound purpose as it follows the early days of their friendship and success prior to the cancellation of “Rescue Rangers” and the fallout that succeeded it. Yes, it’s 2022 and the band hasn’t gotten back together after a barrage of disagreements split them apart, Chip (Mulaney) has given up showbiz altogether, settling for a cushy job as an insurance agent who enjoys listening to heavy metal and attending to his oversized dog. He’s also 2D animated unlike his counterpart, Dale (Samberg) who underwent “CGI” surgery to keep up with fan conventions and milk what little fame he still has.
It’s not long before the two, setting aside their differences, inadvertently catch themselves in the middle of a piracy/copyright bootleg ring where cartoon staples (Flounder in “The Little Mermaid” and countless others) are getting shipped overseas and plastered in crummy foreign B-movies. Teaming up with a local, human detective (played by Kiki Layne), Chip and Dale become private investigators and try to infiltrate the bootleggers and save an old co-star, Monetary Jack (voiced by Eric Bana) who’s been kidnapped for the same reason. It sends the squad on a supersized odyssey where encounters with Muppets, Baloo the Bear, and Luminere from “Beauty and the Beast” are guaranteed and an unexpected trip into “Uncanny Valley” yields several laugh-out-loud moments.
I hesitate to say anymore as the thrill of “Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers” are the smorgasbord of easter eggs uncovered amid the Looney Tune energy. Like “Roger Rabbit” before it, the filmmakers do an excellent job seamlessly blending the animated characters with reality. Dale’s CGI, for example, is top notch and radiates with detail. Of course, the conversational banter and quick, improvesionatal, one liners volleyed between Samberg and Mulaney is worth the price of admission, but I was struck by “Rescue Rangers” wholesomeness. Sure, the adults might notice a few, um, parallels in the narrative related to human trafficking (the cartoons being exploited ect), but the PG lens keeps everything bright and innocent enough to where it’ll almost certainly fly over the littles heads.
Still, if more reboots could follow “Rescue Rangers” lead and deliver a joyous riot on this level, the world could be a better place. A great movie is one you never knew you needed, and I needed “Rescue Rangers.”
CHIP ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS debuts on Disney+ Friday, May 20th.