‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ is Disney+’s Best Movie Yet- Movie Review

Nowadays, it can be difficult for some people to get hyped about the latest Disney projects that come our way, whether it’s in theaters or streaming at home. However, the annoying Hollywood trend that never screams must-watch is a live-action movie based on a popular cartoon, especially with the CGI/animation hybrids that are always a bad idea.  Do I need to mention how Tom & Jerry, The Smurfs, and every useless Alvin and the Chipmunks movie failed utterly? That could’ve been the results with Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, which is now streaming only on Disney+. For being 25 years old, I think I watched a couple of episodes when I was a kid. Still, I don’t recall watching the original Disney Afternoon series too much, despite being familiar with the main characters from the Mickey Mouse shorts and its catchy theme song. I was more into the DuckTales or Darkwing Duck. With that, I didn’t know how to feel about going into this without being a hardcore fan, but that probably won’t make it a problem to enjoy this meta-comedy for everyone. 

When they first met in elementary school, chipmunks Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) and Dale (voiced by Andy Samberg) became instant best friends when they were outcasts. They moved to Hollywood where they got small roles in commercials and television shows, this lead to them starring in the hit TV series Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers from 1989 to 1990. The show was on the rise in popularity until Dale plans to start his own show, resulting in the friendship ending and the cancellation of the series. Flashing forward to thirty years later in Los Angeles, Chip is now working a regular job as an insurance agent while Dale, now with an expensive CGI surgery, is still riding on his fame with appearances on the fan convention circuit. Their paths cross by their old friend Monterey Jack (voiced by Eric Bana), who’s in trouble after owning cheese to crime boss Sweet Pete (voiced by Will Arnett). His dilemma turns mysterious, along with the disappearances of other toons who are kidnapped to have their appearances altered and ship them overseas to make bootleg movies forever. The pair must work together to solve the case and save their friend.

Rumors of a movie almost a decade ago didn’t have me intrigued at first. That drastically changed when they officially announced it two years ago after learning who’s involved and a crazy trailer that instantly sold me with how it wasn’t looking at an exact reboot. The lead-up to the release excited me that this won’t be in the same boat as other poor attempts to make a movie based on cartoons and be fun. But I had a really good time with Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers a lot more than I thought. Director Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island attempted not to make this a waste of time. He isn’t a stranger to the comedy genre, but this is his first time stepping into the kid-friendly territory. Because his past work is often aimed toward adults, from Hot Rod (a misunderstood comedy) or Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (an underrated comedy with devastating box office numbers). A movie of this kind easily could’ve been the same shtick of having CGI animals or creatures getting into mischief we’ve seen a thousand times to make kids dumber. Instead, however, it’s quite the opposite. This was an assignment Schaffer and his writers (Dan Gregor and Doug Mandhad, Dolittle) clearly understood they loved the show and animation while surprisingly poking fun at the studio itself. 

This can be seen as a full-length episode, and the inspiration undoubtedly takes notes from the animated masterpiece Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which many have already compared this to. This is a world where I immediately didn’t need someone to explain why humans and cartoons live side-by-side. And while we’ve seen other movies that try to recapture the same spirit as the Oscar-winning classic, this is the closest to being a success. The plot surrounding this mystery can be a bit predictable for a detective/ buddy comedy storyline, yet a lot of fun when we get to see the lead characters partnering up once more in hopes of them recalling their glory days as partners with bigger stakes for this adventure. 

The two providing the voices to the titular characters are none other than the comedic talents of John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as the chipmunk duo. I’m a massive fan of both of them, and they bounced off each other super well where it’s already expected to have Samberg be silly while Mulaney is the straight-man of the two. You honestly want to put their differences aside and rekindle their friendship when it’s all over as you’re watching. I would love to see them work together again in another movie one day. And I really enjoyed the rest of the voice cast and who they got to play these unique characters. You have J. K. Simmons as Captain Putty, a claymation police detective. Keegan-Michael Key as the Muppet-like Bjornson the Cheesemonger. Seth Rogen as the motion capture Viking with uncanny valley eyes, Bob. And Will Arnett as Sweet Pete, aka a middle-aged Peter Pan that has recently been the talks of criticism after what happened with the actual voice of Disney’s Peter Pan, Bobby Driscoll.

There’s also the live-action performance from KiKi Layne as Detective Ellie Steckler, who joined the world of police work because of her love of Rescue Rangers growing up. She was good in the role with a hilarious backstory, albeit one that doesn’t have us caring too much for the human characters.

The animation is incredible in how it blends all forms of the style, including 2D and 3D characters, especially when we see Chip and Dale together. The 2D look is very reminiscent of the Disney movies that came out during the Renaissance era of the company. I thought the movie would have familiar faces from the Wonderful World of Disney, but there are so many more IPs than you could imagine that I couldn’t believe they got away with the creative license. I quickly spotted so many characters from other properties that this entire movie had a higher enjoyment than the disappointment of last year’s cash grab Space Jam: A New Legacy. Will some find it frustrating and think it’s all pointless? They’ll sure be in the minority. But for a movie handling this many cameos and Easter eggs in its tightly paced ‌97 minutes, they pulled it off very well where it wasn’t hard to find them distracting. Sometimes I had to rewind it more than twice to catch things that were so amusing in the background. But, the movie also had me laughing from almost every scene to the next. The script was very clever to make this appel to both kids and adults and not make the jokes feel forced. There’s one character cameo that was already spoiled online, but this appearance might have given me the hardest and loudest laughs I’ve seen in a movie all year and it hasn’t left my brain after it was over. Because never in a million years did we think to see this version of this famous character after heavy Internet backlash, but I’m still questioning how they made it happen.

Without question, I think we have the best Disney+ movie they’ve come out with, and that doesn’t include those that were meant to be released in theaters but streamed instead. Before this, most of their original movies ride the line from forgettable to never having an interest in watching them. Heck, with the lack of movies for families to go out and see, I think this would’ve done pretty well if they had put this in theaters just to hear the audience’s reactions. Maybe the one problem most will have going into this is adults might have more nostalgia for this than children, who might have no clue who these characters are, unless they discovered the series.

Overall, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the year’s funniest movies. Such a fun tribute to the animated series while delivering hilarious gags and the unbelievable references throughout. So endlessly entertaining and delightful from start to finish. Even if you don’t consider yourself a massive fan of the show, you’ll still have a blast and not be in a cynical mood once it’s over. 

Grade: [B+]

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is now streaming on Disney+. Runtime: 98 Minutes. Rated PG for mild action and rude/suggestive humor. Studio: Disney

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