Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)
Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, and Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: May 20th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Akiva Schaffer Actors: Andy Samberg, John Mulaney, Tress MacNeille, Eric Bana, J.K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, KiKi Layne

 


 

I

n 1982, in the middle of third grade, Dale joins a new school – full of normal human children as well as cartoon characters. He doesn’t make a good impression, sitting alone during lunchtime – until another cartoon chipmunk joins him: the likeminded Chip. Apparently, they’re not actually siblings. But by high school, they’re best of friends, and after graduation, they head to California together to become famous. After a few small roles, they land the gig of a lifetime: their own television series, entitled “Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers.”

By 1990, Chip (John Mulaney, whose voice doesn’t ever sound fitting, if such a comment could be made about anthropomorphic rodents; the original series used sped-up, squeaky voices) and Dale (Andy Samberg, who strangely sounds appropriate) are living the dream, partying nonstop with their onscreen pals Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Zipper, as well as a host of other cartoon characters. But when Dale wants to do a solo project, the result is that their joint venture is canceled and the individual show is dropped after the pilot. Years later, Dale is now computer-animated (thanks to CGI surgery), resorting to selling merchandise and autographs at pop culture conventions, while Chip is employee-of-the-month (yet again) at Coercive Insurance company. Neither chipmunk has a particularly fulfilling life, but they’re both stubborn enough to ignore one another, having never made up after their previous falling-out. Yet when Monterey Jack calls up Chip out of the blue, in a desperate situation, behind in payments to the Valley Gang, the two old friends must team up – reluctantly – once again.

“My love of cheese got the best of me.” It’s difficult to say if there’s enough of a following for the ’80s Disney Afternoon program (something noted in the script itself), but this re-imagining and reboot of sorts isn’t exactly based on that production; it’s essentially only using the main characters to create its own new world. Fascinatingly – or oddly – this vision combines live-action actors, 3D characters (photorealistic and stylized), traditionally-animated personas (of all styles and genres), stop-motion, and even puppets (and sock puppets). Plus, there are miniature buildings for smaller roles, cartoon vehicles, and real animals as pets. This is an incredibly original yet highly incongruous universe, in which nothing quite fits together – though at least the dialogue acknowledges just how bizarre the mishmash is.

“We need warrants; we need probable cause.” Times have changed and references to the original series will surely be lost on younger generations, but the screenplay here is updated primarily for modern viewers; the majority of jokes and jabs are based on concepts and entities from recent years (such as the ugly version of Sonic who was ridiculed into a studio facelift by social media). Although the story is a somewhat unrecognizable (yet uninspired) kidnapping scheme (“What if we did episode 45?”), it’s essentially an excuse for the screenwriters and individualistic stars to string together a collection of unrelated gags and one-liners, as well as a wealth of “cameos” by various properties – vast and unpredictable, considering that Disney now owns a ludicrous number of other studios and copyrights.

“He’s been bootlegged!” The film is marginally adventurous (the runtime isn’t overbearing), but with the blend of animated realities, there’s no real sense of danger or immediacy; it’s hard to know what is possible or impossible in such a discordant realm. Fortunately, some of the humor works (chiefly the self-referential wit, including nods to the theme song, which is redone in a comically frustrating way at the close), even if laugh-out-loud moments are incredibly rare – or debatably nonexistent. Ultimately, the result isn’t clever enough to actually reboot the franchise, though if this picture is successful, it might lend the same reinvigoration ploy to other forgotten Disney shows. “I don’t wear pants!”

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10