Disney animation was at an interesting point at the dawn of the ‘90s. Movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit kept pushing the studio’s Touchstone brand into a neutral zone for adults and older children to visit together. Meanwhile, The Disney Afternoon block of programming kept shows like Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers on the air, where syndication would entertain kids after they’d done their homework. The company that exists today isn’t quite the same as it was back in those days, with Touchstone Pictures being defunct for some time now.
And yet, the Disney+ reboot of Rescue Rangers feels like a tip of the hat to those nostalgic days – while at the same time still keeping its feet firmly planted in the here and now. The first step towards that goal is taken with the story in director Akiva Schaeffer’s film, which sees Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) reconciling after decades of separation. With the cancellation of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, the gang went their separate ways; but a new wave of crime brings these two gumshoes back together for a case that might just be too big for them to handle alone.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a reboot that mocks reboots, and gets it right in the process.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is definitely a reboot, as the continuity of this new movie puts the characters of the series in a slightly exaggerated version of our own reality. The meta-humoristic approach has been mentioned as the path of choice since writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand came in as the scribes of choice. With that in mind, the new Rescue Rangers does mock reboots, while also playing to the strengths of the formula, and it gets it right in the process.
This is where the hat tips to Who Framed Roger Rabbit come into play, even as Roger himself has a small cameo in the beginning of the film. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers plays like a new version of that story, with the dangers of being a toon leading to a rash of high-profile abductions. The result is a process that, depending on how you look at it, feels worse than The Dip.
Taking a tonal page out of Edgar Wright’s playbook, we’re treated to a Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers that is both tongue-in-cheek, but also pretty serious. In the process of mocking mashup tentpoles with “vs.” in the title, the movie also finds a way to throw in some pretty crazy easter eggs, cameos, and the occasional joke that stops just short of crossing the PG-13 line. Somehow, it all works to the advantage of the story, and never seems out of place.
The craziness that Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers gets away with is pleasantly surprising.
Moving this Disney Afternoon inspired adventure into the real world definitely removes the guardrails that a half-hour animated mystery would entail. As Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers locks onto its tone of humor quite early, a joke about the Chippendales male revue is the high water mark of what to expect in this PG-rated romp. The lines are firmly drawn as to where this movie will and will not go, but adults can fill in the gaps.
Craziness doesn’t only apply to the tone, as the sheer volume of cameos and surprises presented for the audience to digest keeps Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers at a mile-a-minute pace. Your pause button will find itself getting quite a workout, as background characters and billboards are double-take fodder while exploring the world of Chip and Dale’s reality. Chances are that if you thought you spotted someone you thought would never turn up in a Disney movie, you weren’t deceived.
It’s an anarchy that’s pleasantly surprising, especially in light of what most people would expect from a movie of this sort. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers still works beautifully on a basic comedy level that younger kids can get behind, even if they don’t realize who half of the characters on screen are. The action, and the humor, are enough to help anyone new to ‘90s animation enjoy the ride as it was intended, while allowing die-hard fans and older viewers a chance to enjoy some big laughs.
While the movie pushes the boundaries of meta-humor and PG-rated fun, Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers is family friendly, but fiercely funny.
To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers moves at the audience fast, and if people don’t stop to look around, they might just miss something. The story doesn’t suffer when that happens, which is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to pushing those meta-humor boundaries. Though it invokes the memory of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Chip ‘n Dale doesn’t get as twisted or dark with its mystery as that tale eventually did.
If you’re looking for that sort of complication, then your mileage may vary with Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers. The movie excels at having fun in a Looney Tunes-style fashion, cracking as many jokes as it can in-between the next clue and/or set piece. With a proper understanding of satire and reference based humor, Rescue Rangers avoids the traps most comedies fall into when trying to be fast and funny.
With an assortment of humor that plays to anyone in the audience, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is fiercely funny, while also family friendly. Hardcore fans of the show can let themselves question whether a romantic pairing in the Rescue Rangers cast would actually work or not. Younger/more novice viewers who don’t get the joke won’t have to worry too much about the matter, as the next hilarious moment is just around the corner. That just might be the best part about Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, as it’s a film that’s reverent of its past, but not so much that it won’t allow itself to take some chances.
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