Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Everything Gets a Reboot Eventually

Film: Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Format: Streaming video from Disney Plus on Fire!

A lot of people have told me in one way or another that the Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie was something I should really watch. I honestly don’t watch a lot of animated movies that aren’t specifically on the Oscar list these days, mostly because my kids aren’t hoe any more. I like animation, but it’s not necessarily a style that I seek out. Given all of the hype that I got about it, though, it seemed like it would be a huge mistake to not watch it.

I’m going to drop the take now, so that if you don’t want to read the full review, you don’t have to click the like. It’s good. I enjoyed it a great deal. The voice work is good, the characters are smart, and it’s just self=aware enough to be winking at the audience without really dancing around the points its making. It’s also a film that is very much made for a particular age—later Gen-X and perhaps early Millennials.

Why is that? Well, the Rescue Rangers television show ran for three seasons, from 1989 to 1990. People who are a good decade or so younger than I am (and I am very early Gen-X) are right in the wheel house for the after school Disney shows like this. I, on the other hand, was in college during the show’s run and couldn’t even afford basic cable. So there’s no nostalgia for me when it comes to the source material. Because of that, I’m probably missing a bunch of inside jokes and references, and I don’t have that built-in love for the characters.

We’re going to get a little history on the duo, who met early on in school and formed a bond as a couple of outsiders. It’s worth noting that Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers takes place in a sort of Roger Rabbit world of humans and cartoons living side-by-side. This world also includes computer and video game characters, puppets, and other forms of animation. We’re hearing this initially from the point of view of Dale (Andy Samberg), who is the comic member of the duo, and who essentially got their original show cancelled when he tried to have his own show after their third season. He’s still desperate to stay in the business, working conventions and the like and trying to influence on social media, even having 3D surgery to make him more modern. Chip (John Mulaney) has moved on completely and sells insurance.

The pair are independently contacted by their old comrade Monty Jack (Eric Bana), who has a serious cheese addiction and is in deep to a criminal gang run by someone called Sweet Pete (Will Arnett). If he doesn’t pay what he owes, they’ll kidnap him, alter his appearance, and send him out of the country to make cheap knock-off animated films meant to confuse people into buying them, thinking they are the real thing (think Chop Kick Panda instead of Kung Fu Panda).

What’s going to happen is pretty straight ahead, of course. Chip and Dale are going to be forced to work together despite a lot of harbored resentment. Along the way, they’re going to be assisted by a number of likely and unlikely characters including the first movie version of Sonic the Hedgehog with human teeth (Tim Robinson), a police captain/Gumby-style clay character (J.K. Simmons), and his assistant, Ellie (KiKi Layne).

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a little darker than I expected it would be—the cheese addiction storyline and a few other comments put it very much for an adult audience. This isn’t to say that kids won’t like this, because they probably will. However, it’s a movie that parents are going to want to make their kids watch with them rather than the other way around. Throughout, there are a bunch of references to other cartoon characters of the same era. There’s a great meta moment when a computer game character voiced by Seth Rogen is hurt, and this is commented on by three other animated characters, all voiced by Rogen in other movies.

In a large way, this is Roger Rabbit for a slightly younger generation. We’re going to see references to early 2000s computer and video games, the Coca-Cola polar bears, South Park, Jimmy Neutron, and a ton of other Disney and non-Disney animated properties. I would imagine that a lot of the same licensing had to happen for this, and I would also imagine that, as with a project like Wreck-It Ralph, most people were happy to be a part of it.

It's hard not to like this, and even without the greater nostalgia on offer here, I got a little in seeing Andy Samberg essentially playing a sort of animated Jake Peralta. The truth is that this is a lot of fun, but if you’re about 10-15 years younger than I am, it’s your favorite movie of 2022.

Why to watch Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers: It’s the next generation’s Roger Rabbit.
Why not to watch: If you’re not the right age, it won’t hit as hard as you might like.


  1. I grew up on that show as a kid. I loved that show. I need to check it out.

    1. I can virtually guarantee that you'll love it.

  2. I never expected to like this as much as I did. It was fun!

    1. If you're the right age, this is the right way to do nostalgia. Rescue Rangers was after my time and before I had kids, so it missed me completely.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. It's been a labor of love for a long time.