Warning: SPOILERS for the cameos in Disney+’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers are in play. If you want to remain unspoiled, come back once you’ve seen the film.
To screenwriters Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a backdoor sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Set in a modern day Los Angeles where toons and humans can interact freely, that vibe carried over excellently in this addition to the canon of Disney+ movies. Such a concept also comes another interesting wrinkle that even presented the people behind Roger Rabbit with some headaches of their own: securing the rights to the amazing number of characters used for cameos and Easter eggs.
An insane process helped secure the appearances vital to sell the world of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and it was so big that it couldn’t only be told by one person. Thanks to my interviews during the film’s press days, director Akiva Schaffer, as well as Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, laid out the whole road map to how it all happened.
To hear the whole story, you should watch the video included at the top. Also, consider this another warning about spoilers for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, if you haven’t seen the movie for yourself. If you want to know more, without giving anything away, you can check out my official review of Rescue Rangers. With that aside, let’s start the madness of how the Disney legal team embarked on one of its greatest journeys yet.
In two separate interviews, I spoke with the Rescue Rangers team about how the movie’s glorious mixture of easter eggs and appearances came to be. Everyone from the Mane Six from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to Randy Marsh from South Park found their way into the picture. Needless to say, the trailer for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers only scratches the surface of who shows up.
Wondering how this came together and if there was any pushback, I asked all three participants across two separate interviews about what had to happen. As it turns out, while there was a lot of work heaped onto the Disney legal team, the company embraced Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Ranger’s kitchen sink of characters. As you’ll see below, Akiva Schaffer thanked the Disney legal team, while Doug Mand and Dan Gregor laid out just how much went into those negotiations. Here’s what these gentlemen told CinemaBlend:
"Akiva Schaffer: [Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers] couldn’t have been made without them, and they had to really embrace the idea of this movie, and why it was fun to do … I don’t know how many hours they spend on most movies, but they had to spend many more hours on this movie to get all that stuff done.
Doug Mand: And everything you see on screen is an individual negotiation. It’s not, there’s no blanket, like-
Dan Gregor: You can’t just go to Warner Bros. and say, ‘Hey, can we use all your characters?’ You had to, every single specific had to be really specifically figured out."
For the most part, cartoon fans may see cameos from other characters as an exercise in selling a specific universe. Thinking back to Warner Bros’ 2020 release of Scoob!, the film was a huge ode to the Hanna Barbera universe; so much so that people must have thought they were trying to win over HBO Max subscribers. Akiva Schaffer was aware of such a concern for Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and he addressed it directly while explaining how much of a process was required to make these appearances happen:
The work put in by Disney’s legal department certainly populated Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers with famous characters that you wouldn’t have ever thought to include in a Disney movie. Sly references like a billboard advertising the campaign for Senator Butthead (yes, of Beavis and Butthead fame) flash by in an instant, and even those quick hits needed some legal wrangling to wind up in the can. It sounds like a headache, but Dan Gregor made it sound more severe in recalling the paces this script had put the legal team through.
Gregor’s jest aside, he and Doug Mand are nothing but grateful for the support they got on Rescue Rangers. That gratitude not only extends to the lawyers, but also director Akiva Schaffer and other behind-the-scenes teammates that Mand named specifically, as he continued to lay out just why this constellation of other people’s characters was so important:
"Dan Gregor: I’m sure we gave some lawyer a heart attack somewhere, and we appreciate your heart problems on our behalf.
Doug Mand: I mean, I would say that Dan and I started writing this movie seven years ago. When we were writing it, one of the joys and the fun part about it is just being like, ‘Oh yeah, well this character could be in there.’ The whole time we were writing it, we’re like, ‘Well, they’re never going to make this movie. Like, there is just no chance that Disney is going to make this movie. So let’s write it the way that it is in our brains. Let’s make each other laugh, let’s go down memory lane.’ That was always kind of met with, surprisingly, a lot of support from Disney, Louis Provost over there, and Todd Lieberman and Alexander Young at Mandeville, they loved it too. And then Akiva came on, and he really loved that, and wanted to lean into it. Everyone was on board with trying to make this happen."
For a movie that seemed to have no chance of ever being made, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers has become a crowd-pleasing reality. Should the movie do well enough in its streaming run, Dan Gregor and Doug Mand would be pleased to return for another round of cameo-laden madness. This means the Disney legal team had better rest up just in case, as who knows what’ll be proposed for a Rescue Rangers 2.
If that sort of pitch is even going to be heard in the halls of Disney, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers will need to be a hit. Currently, the movie is streaming on Disney+ alongside the entire series run of the original animated source. If you find yourself wondering where you’ve seen or heard Rescue Rangers’ cast before, we can help you identify some of the familiar folks involved in this adventure.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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