When I first heard that Disney was going to make a live-action version of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, I was highly indifferent for two reasons: the first being that I was never a big fan of the Rescue Rangers series, and secondly, there is the issue of Disney remaking their animated classics into live-action.
But WOW! This movie was such a great surprise!
It’s Not A Reboot… It’s a Comeback.
The tagline states: “It’s not a reboot. It’s a comeback”, and it couldn’t be any closer to the truth. Unlike previous predictions of it being a live-action remake, Rescue Rangers is not a remake of the series, but it’s also not a continuation because the film follows the same rules as Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The toons from your favourite shows and movies are very real, and they live alongside us. In this universe, the original Rescue Rangers show is just that – a show, as in real life.
The movie picks up thirty years after the original show ended, and Chip and Dale have gone their separate ways. Chip works in insurance, and Dale attends conventions in the hopes of reviving his acting career. But the two former friends find themselves thrown into a wild adventure when Monterey Jack mysteriously disappears.
John Mulaney and Andy Samberg take on the roles of Chip and Dale, replacing Tress MacNeille and Corey Burton (who both cameo). Mulaney and Samberg work great together as the chipmunk duo. At first, I was distracted by how different they sounded from the character’s original voices; it was something that I quickly forgot about, thanks to the comedy styles of Mulaney and Samberg. The two take on the roles as their own and create some award-worthy performances.
The Craziest Cameos
As with Roger Rabbit, this film features a plethora of animated characters, and it is a little disappointing to see that there are far fewer than the 90s classic. Still, the ones that appear are fun and occasionally shocking – in good and bad ways…
The Issue of Sweet Pete
We are starting with the bad. And by bad, I mean that it’s an oversized elephant in the room, and I am not talking about Dumbo. Peter Pan is the movie’s main antagonist, and like Chip and Dale, he found his career fumble and fizzle out.
Now overweight, balding and middle-aged, Peter Pan has become a criminal named Sweet Pete. This has already caused some issues due to the history of Peter Pan’s original voice actor, Bobby Driscoll, who turned to drugs once his acting career failed to grow once he grew into adulthood. Driscoll was eventually sentenced to stay in the Narcotic Rehabilitation Center before passing away at 31 from heart failure due to his substance abuse.
The story of Sweet Pete eerily mirrors that of Driscoll, right to the point where it does feel intentional. Whether it was or not, the comparison is there and knowing Driscoll’s history made a lot of Sweet Pete’s scenes uncomfortable because it felt like they were directly parodying Driscoll. I don’t think it was intentional because Disney probably wouldn’t allow such a thing. Regardless, there had to be someone working on the movie who knew about this, and they should have voiced the need to change Peter Pan to another classic character to avoid such comparisons.
The Good and the Shocking
The Peter Pan x Bobby Driscoll similarities are the only problem I had with the film because the rest of it was great, especially the cameos.
As mentioned near the start of this review, Rescue Rangers doesn’t have nearly as many cameos as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but some of the characters that appear are as shocking as they’re fun. Not only has Disney let their hair down with the plot, which includes some rather overt drug references, but they’ve included characters from other companies – notably Paramount, who has lent two of my favourite cameos. I won’t say who they are, but member to be on the lookout for a silent cameo from a character you would never have expected to appear in a Disney movie.
I don’t think it’ll be an unpopular opinion to say that Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers has better cameos than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Rightful Return of a Franchise
Studios love to unceremoniously dig dormant franchises of the woodwork and force them down our throats, but every so often, we get a revival that isn’t only decent but a well-welcomed return. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers happily falls into that latter category, and I predict we’ll be getting a sequel in a few years and possibly a proper revival of the original animated series.
If Disney does greenlight a sequel, they have to include the other members of the Rescue Rangers team because they don’t appear for long in this instalment. This means nothing to me because I’m not the biggest fan of these characters, but I can imagine fans of the original series will be slightly disappointed by how little the other Rescue Rangers appear.
On paper, a live-action-animation hybrid of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers doesn’t sound like it would work. But going down the same meta route as Who Framed Roger Rabbit helped this movie excel beyond my expectations. You could even consider it a spiritual successor to Roger Rabbit since it doesn’t seem like we’ll ever get a sequel.
The film stars John Mulaney as Chip and Andy Samberg as Dale, and they are joined by the talents of KiKi Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Flula Borg, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, and J.K. Simmons.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers will be available to stream on Disney+ from Friday, May 20th.