To be frank, I was never a big fan of the entire Disney Afternoon series of cartoons. I was hitting my mid-teen years by that time so the idea of watching a Disney cartoon wasn’t exactly on the top of my priority list. I do remember trying to watch the two which I consider to be the main flagship shows, namely DuckTales and Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. I was more of a Darkwing Duck guy myself.
Well, after so many years, Disney decided it was time to dip back in the well and reboot DuckTales. So it was only a matter of time when they would do the same with Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. But instead of doing a straight up reinvention of the show, they did a bold move and got the folks behind the Lonely Island to sort of go crazy and do their own thing with the property. The resulting product is, well, both formulaic and yet still very creative.
By the way, even though this movie is available in theaters as well as on Disney+, meaning anyone with a subscription to the service who wants to see it probably has, this review is still going to be SPOILER FREE. A lot of what makes the movie fun are all of the sight gags and cameos sprinkled all throughout the film so, yeah. SPOILER FREE.
Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers takes place some time after the cancellation of the television series due to Dale’s desire to become a solo act. Chip is now an insurance salesman while Dale is working the convention circuit while trying odd acting jobs. When their old castmate Monterey Jack goes missing, the two have to put aside their differences and find their friend.
Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers borrows heavily from the ideas initially shown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Cartoon characters live with real people and the cartoons we watch are actually filmed like real actors and actresses. This is where the movie excels as it manages to blend both worlds together seamlessly. However, there are times when the cartoon characters and objects don’t blend together perfectly. This is fairly evident whenever a cartoon character has to interact with a real object. It’s done well because CGI has come a long way since Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but, at the same time, more work was put into Who Framed Roger Rabbit as they had to build robots to perform the action and then overlay it with animation. This makes the interaction between both cartoon and the real world feel more natural. It’s still good in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers but it is something I did need to point out.
However, this is just me nitpicking on the animation as, in all honestly, I love how this movie looked and how they blended numerous animation styles together. Some characters have the “uncanny valley” look and others even use the old rotoscope animation technique Disney used. The amazing thing is it makes sense as that’s how those characters were or how they were supposed to be animated. It’s this level of attention to details that really impressed me.
I was rather miffed when I first heard that Chip and Dale weren’t going to keep their original chipmunk voices and instead sound like John Mulaney and Adam Samberg… because that’s who voices Chip and Dale in the Rescue Rangers movie. I mean, I grew up watching them with those high pitched chirping voices so hearing both characters have this more baritone level of speaking just felt odd to me. But that was at the start. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to settle in because, even though they don’t sound like the Chip and Dale from my younger days, both John Mulaney and Adam Samberg do fit their characters’ personalities.
Chip and Dale weren’t the only ones who got different voice actors for the Rescue Rangers movie. Eric Bana now does the voice for Monterey Jack and, in all honesty, I didn’t even know he was voiced by the original actor. Some more recognizable vocal performances from Seth Rogan are there and they both fit their character archetypes well. I can’t really say anything bad about the voice acting in the Rescue Rangers movie; if they managed to make John Mulaney and Adam Samberg work, that’s already a win right there.
One thing I have to mention is how many cameos from other animated studios Disney managed to get into the movie. It would’ve been easy to use other Disney characters, which they did use in abundance. However, they also got characters from Paramount Studios, Dreamworks and Hasbro. Even a South Park character and a DC superhero makes very brief appearances in the background! I bet there are other characters I didn’t notice but real animation fans should be able to spot them and tell me who they are.
The humor throughout the film’s rather speedy 97-minute runtime is good but never really hits greatness. There are definitely some creative use of the cartoon world hijinks but the jokes never really hit a solid home run. If they really went for it and went over the top, a lot of the humor would’ve worked better. It just felt as if Disney had to restrain themselves for some reason.
The weakest thing about the Rescue Rangers movie is, oddly enough, the mystery and the plot. You know from the outset who the bad guy is and it’s not even a really threatening villain. They do try to throw a twist at the end but even the twist is super predictable and you can see it coming from a mile away. Then again, it seems as if the plot takes a back seat to all of the wacky and creative scenarios Chip ‘n’ Dale get into.
The movie is more inclined to make you feel like your in a world that has cartoons living in the real world. It’s also concentrating on delivering more irreverent humor and not so much the story. And, on those aspects, Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers does work for the most part. While I can’t really give a solid, two thumbs up approval because I just wish they went all crazy with the jokes, I can say it’s a fun watch, especially if you’re at least familiar with Chip ‘n’ Dale or you have a good appreciation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
Have you seen the Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers movie? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!