Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writers: Dan Gregor and Doug Mand
Starring: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, JK Simmons, and KiKi Layne
Review: In my childhood, I was without a doubt a Disney kid. (I know, shocker!) Though short-lived compared to its more popular affiliate channel, there was a stretch of time where the family television often stopped on Toon Disney. So, of course, I feel a deep connection to the Rescue Rangers. Unfortunately, that didn’t really translate to much excitement for this movie. I had extremely mixed feelings going in. It looked like a fun Roger Rabbit-style adventure, but I was so turned off by the different takes on the characters that I just couldn’t quite get on board. After seeing it, I can now say that, while those thoughts do still linger, this movie more than won me over. I, like so many others, ended up having a really good time with this. It’s an absolute delight of a movie.
First of all, while this isn’t a direct adaptation of the cartoon, it does capture the spirit of Rescue Rangers quite well. We’ve got our two lovable leads and their argumentative nature. They end up involved in a wacky adventure. In this case, Monterey Jack has been kidnapped. This leads to a lot of detective work and fun action scenes. And, they end up saving the day despite never quite doing it in the traditional manner. Along the way, there are lovable side characters and an amazing theme song. It’s all there. And, actually, I think they did a great job at bringing the individuality of Chip and Dale to life. This is the first time I feel they’ve really had distinct personalities. Whenever I see them, I’m usually distracted by trying to tell which is which. (I’ve got a little trick similar to PEMDAS I do every time.) But, that was not a problem here. They had completely different, easily identifiable personalities. Now, I will admit that the different outfits, nose colors, animation styles, and voices helped, but I think, for the first time, I would be able to name who said what by dialogue alone. Their personalities were that distinct.
But, to be entirely honest, the Rescue Rangers were only responsible for maybe 35% of my viewing enjoyment. The rest came from the brilliant wide array of background gags and cameos. As a Disney (and really animation in general) fan, I was in heaven trying to spot as many references as I could. There were so many that I think I could watch this ten times and still not catch everything. Every single one sparked joy in my heart from the obvious stuff like dejected Sonic to a background poster of a pimped-out Dobby. Not to mention the “always useful when doing a reboot” meta-humor about Hollywood running out of ideas. It helps the medicine go down when you go into these things with a wink and a nod. And, again, if you scan the background, you’ll find a couple of really solid jokes centered around bad movie pitches. I know it’s an easy comparison, but this really is the 21st century’s Roger Rabbit. It’s packed with plenty of nostalgic cameos but has just enough sass to make it not feel quite like “member berries” to quote one of the many franchises making an appearance here.
In the opening of this review, I mentioned a few of the reservations I had before my viewing experience. And, while it mostly won me over, I still struggled with them enough to hurt my overall viewing experience. First of all, the voices took an extremely long time for me to get over. I love John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, but the sound of their voices coming out of these two iconic characters triggered my fight or flight response. It just didn’t feel right. Like if Mickey Mouse showed up voiced by Pete Davidson. It’s weird. I don’t like it. And, ultimately, it’s what made this movie never completely register as a Chip and Dale movie for me. It’s just hard for me to buy that these are the same characters when their voices are so different from the iconic high-pitched squeaks that I’m used to. Also, I understand that it’s different in this movie’s universe, but Chip and Dale aren’t just from Rescue Rangers. They were iconic characters decades before and decades after that particular show. Would I listen to an argument that it was their peak? Sure. But, to paint them as some kind of fifteen minutes of fame actors rubbed me the wrong way. Again, how am I supposed to see these guys two of the most famous cartoon characters of all time when the movie doesn’t even see them that way. That being said, it’s entirely possible that this is just a me problem. No one else will have any issues with the portrayal. In fact, I hope it is. Because, otherwise, I thought this movie was great. I hope people love it for what it is. It deserves that much. But, for me, this was a huge hurdle to overcome and definitely hurt the final score.
Overall, I did enjoy Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers a lot. I think it’s a fun reboot and a movie I could definitely see myself revisiting. I loved this take on the characters, even though it was hard to buy them as THEE Chip and Dale. I think it’s a fantastic adventure flick that everyone will love. And I really, really loved the background jokes and cameos. I had a blast constantly scanning for more Easter eggs and each one made me happier than the last. All of this adds up to an easy recommendation for me. Definitely check this one out on Disney+. I think you’re going to like it.
TL;DR: Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers is a really well-written, clever family comedy packed so full of cameos and background jokes that it’s almost guaranteed to win even the most skeptical viewer over.
Score: 7/10 (Good)