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Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Connection To Who Framed Roger Rabbit, At Least According To The Screenwriters

The Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie has proved itself to be a bit of a crowd pleaser. Fresh antics with familiar faces reframe the classic animated series with a huge dose of meta-humor, all sorts of in-jokes, surprise cameos, and easter eggs in this latest offering to be added to the collection of original Disney+ movies. It’s enough to inspire some to see Rescue Rangers as a spiritual sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and according to the screenwriters, that’s not an accident. 

I got to speak with writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand recently as part of the press day for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ recent release. The writing team behind director Akiva Schaffer's meta-humorous detective comedy both men admitted that while they were fans of Chip and Dale, they didn’t want the movie to merely be “another episode” in the Rescue Rangers canon. In search of a fresh approach, Gregor and Mand turned to Roger Rabbit and its legacy of mixing the world of toons with that of humans.

Using the 1989 Robert Zemeckis classic, which also resides in the library Disney+ subscribers have access to, Dan Gregor in particular highlighted why the movie was so important to cracking Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ reality. As he spoke with CinemaBlend, Gregor laid the following foundation based on the DNA of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The remarks below are selected from a longer conversation, which you can watch in the video at the top of the story.

In our minds, no one ever said this was the case, but in our minds this has always been sort of like a backdoor sequel to Roger Rabbit, it’s like in-universe. I’m not saying that officially, that’s not a spoiler. But again, that’s just our own internal compass, where we really want it to feel like ‘Ok, Roger Rabbit is a world unto itself. Cartoons are real people living in Hollywood, acting in roles.’... That’s sort of this core thing where it clicked into Roger Rabbit, where it’s like, ‘Well [Chip and Dale] are just actors playing roles, right?’ … And so it was just a very fun mental exercise to ask ourselves, ‘How do you keep that spirit, but just keep updating it to now?’

In the world of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) become estranged because of those acting careers taking separate paths. As the Rescue Rangers show is cancelled after Dale accepts a role in a pilot for a James Bond knockoff, 30 years introduces a lot of space between the formerly close friends. It also explodes the number of animation approaches available, which was something that Dan Gregor and Doug Mand also took into account with their script. 

Further nurturing the “mental exercise” of their pseudo-sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the pair took into account the changing animated landscape in the decades since the film’s release. Building off of the Los Angeles that introduced human and toon harmony, another tale of abduction, conspiracy and impromptu musical numbers in a time of crisis was built from the ground up. Everything from a claymation detective voiced by J.K. Simmons to an insidious plot known as "Bootlegging" resulted, widening the playing field for what could be done and who could show up.

What makes this approach so much more rewarding is the fact that over 30 years after Roger Rabbit became a massive cultural and box office hit for Disney, courtesy of its Touchstone Pictures division, the legacy of Roger and his friends has somewhat dimmed. Several attempts were made to get a sequel off the ground, but none proved successful. Some would tell you they couldn’t see why or how this could happen, but director Robert Zemeckis feels that Disney executives just don’t like Roger Rabbit anymore

Perhaps with Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers reviving those nostalgic feelings, and Disney Parks trying to rehabilitate the image of Jessica Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit might have its day yet again. Legacy-quels are definitely all the rage, with the studio maintaining a foothold in that realm with projects like the Honey I Shrunk The Kids follow-up Shrunk. Seeing as the Disney brass was supportive of the movie that Dan Gregor and Doug Mand wanted to make, it couldn’t hurt to push this exercise a little further.

Seeing Roger Rabbit himself in the trailer for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers may have seemed like a cameo for nostalgia’s sake. Ultimately, the film itself proves that the impressive roster of easter eggs and appearances it landed were all justified. It just so happens that Roger in particular was a nice tip of the hat to the legacy of an undervalued Disney original, and that sort of heart is what makes it all so much fun to watch.

You can catch Roger, Chip, Dale and a ton of other characters you wouldn’t expect in a Disney movie in Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, which is currently streaming on Disney+! A double feature could even be arranged, as Who Framed Roger Rabbit is also included on the platform at the time of this writing. However, if you’re ready to look beyond into the world of upcoming movies at a theater near you, that could be arranged as well. 

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.