Nothing is safe from the age of movie reboots. That being said, there are some TV series and films that are pretty harmless to revisit. Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers is exactly that. The Disney Afternoon animated series was a fun and cute adventure tale featuring the beloved chipmunks as detectives solving a different crime each episode. It’s still quite enjoyable and is all currently watchable on Disney+, but it’s hard to complain about a modern movie adaptation being made that changes it up a bit. That being said, does the new Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers movie hold a flame to the classic cartoon, or does the film need rescuing itself? Let’s adventure forth to find out.
With the film starring the likes of Andy Samberg, John Mulaney, and Will Arnett, it’s just as hilarious as one would expect it to be. The dialogue is filled with witty quips and plenty of clever sarcasm. Some of the funniest bits, though, comes from its meta humor. Between being self-referential, making jokes about the voice actors themselves, and even making nods toward how certain tropes are looked at in real life, the meta humor almost never fails to earn big laughs.
This movie is also both a celebration and parody of animation, how far it’s come, and the various styles of animation that exist. There are characters who are 2D animated, 3D animated, claymation, anime, and even done in unsettling motion capture that fall into the uncanny valley. There’s something quite enjoyable about seeing a stop-motion, Gumby-like character interacting with a CGI one and a 2D-animated one. The jokes about “ugly” animation and what happens to those characters are extremely funny. It’s also worth noting that each type of animation is done extraordinarily well.
This film feels like a sequel, or at least a spiritual successor to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in some ways. While not quite as great as Roger Rabbit, it does with modern animation what Roger Rabbit did with classic animation. Cartoons are actors who are animated and live in the real world with the rest of us live-action folk. Roger does actually appear in the movie, so it may even technically be canon. Since this is the closest thing we’ve gotten to revisiting Roger Rabbit, it’s pretty cool to experience.
There are so many iconic animated characters throughout the course of the movie that it’s worth watching multiple times to try and catch them all. They’re not just all Disney characters, either, which is a bit surprising. Characters from Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Hanna-Barbera, My Little Pony, and more are referenced or scattered throughout. Disney clearly had an outstanding legal team working on this. While these cameos and references don’t affect the plot of the movie for better or worse, it is a genuinely fun time playing “spot the reference.”
The story offers plenty of heartfelt and touching moments. Chip and Dale being old friends reuniting for the first time in years is something emotional that many people can relate to. Ellie meeting her childhood icons is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. Even Dale’s fellow convention “celebrities” sticking up for him is quite moving. Moments like this get the audience to actually care for what’s happening on screen with the animated chipmunks, which is quite powerful.
Just like the original Disney Afternoon series, the movie is filled with riveting action and adventure. The danger to the characters manages to feel very real, and seeing how they overcome obstacles and escape from the bad guys is extremely exciting. Even though Chip and Dale aren’t in their usual setting, it still feels like one of their classic adventures. It’s overall a rather thrilling movie.
The “2D animation” used in the movie is actually 3D animation disguised as if it were hand-drawn. It’s a lot more noticeable than they were intending, unfortunately. The fact that the 2D animation isn’t true 2D animation takes away from part of the point of the movie.
While the story is exciting, it does feel a little too much like a generic buddy-cop mystery film with plenty of overused tropes that we’ve seen countless times before. This caused much of the plot to be too predictable at times. There’s even a major reveal that was obvious with an even more obvious red herring trying to distract from it. With such a fun and unique premise, the plot could have easily been much more imaginative.
There are likely fans who would have preferred the Rescue Rangers movie be a true adaptation of Rescue Rangers. It makes sense for someone who grew up with the animated series to want the movie to be more like it. Unfortunately, anyone who pictured a Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers film to be like a long episode of the series may be rather disappointed considering this is a more meta take on it.
Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers definitely could have been more original and more clever with the same premise. That being said, anyone who doesn’t have fun watching it is most likely lying. It’s a goofy and exciting time filled with big laughs, a great deal of heart, and some suspenseful moments. The celebration of the world of animation is icing on the cake. It’s certainly a movie reboot that is worth checking out.