Review: 'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' (2022) Dir. Akiva Schaffer
From a beloved TV series that ran for just over a year in 1989/1990, the Rescue Rangers are back to continue their adventures on the big-screen to welcome a new generation of fans...
After riding high on their early 90s cartoon success, Chip (Mulaney) and Dale (Samberg) are pulled apart by life taking different directions. They live in a world where humans and cartoons mix, with some of the biggest names in animation still popular in modern culture - bar them.
When their former co-star Monterey Jack (Bana), who owes money to a criminal gang, is kidnapped, insurance salesman Chip and convention addict Dale unite to find him and discover just what is happening to missing cartoons who vanish without trace.
Discovering an evil plot that forces 'toons to work overseas in bootleg movies and productions, Chip and Dale have the help from LAPD Detective (Layne) and some wacky characters to save Jack and other 'toons in trouble before their entire industry, and all they love, is lost forever...
Fans of old and new animation will be right at home here - but this is clearly a kids movie, suitable for the whole family. It has buckets of charm and immediately harnesses the wit and technical strength of classic animated comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit. SNL writer Akiva Schaffer directs the film and uses all of the styles of animation possible to bring this world alive. We have 2D animation, CGI (used instead of plastic surgery for the 'toons), 90s 3D effects, stop-motion and classic hand-drawn.
Being this is also a Walt Disney production, it opens up a wealth of treasure from the back catalogue that offers numerous cheeky cameos but also meaty supporting characters. If you can imagine a Disney (and even some non-Disney) products or subsidiary, there's an in-joke, character, theme tune or reference in here that somehow works without feeling shoe-horned in. You actually forget just how much Disney now holds the rights to!
Not to mention all this in with live action, the comic style blends the best of both.
Imagine a kids favourite, and it'll be here from either this generation or the last. From Nickelodeon in-jokes, dozens of classic characters popping up that you'll recongise, it's almost a celebration of the genre and all the creativity and fun it stands for.
Chip and Dale rid their trademark squeaks for voice work by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, but do the job well with high-energy cheek. The support cast bring their characters to life perfectly including Will Arnett's grown up and washed out Peter Pan, J.K Simmons moustache putty detective Captain...Putty, and Seth Rogen as pixelated Viking henchman Bob. Each one is brought to life via different styles, but all tap into the source material to inject lots of tongue-in-cheek fun, even to the bad guys, as all cartoons should. We are even treated to veteran actors such as Jeff Bennett, Alan Oppenheimer and the mighty Jim Cummings lending their talents.
Working with her animated surroundings, Kiki Layne keeps it grounded as the LAPD Detective out to solve the crime with her cartoon co-stars. Even when faced with explaining her tragic career path from taking a tip on raiding Nick Jnr to find a missing Peppa Pig, only to be ambushed by the Paw Patrol, she gives it her all and takes every crazy plot point seriously. Bob Hoskins would be proud.
The story is very apt with our Rangers seeking out the one who is kidnapping cartoons and forcing them to work in bootleg animation. It takes its time to get going and find it's feet, but the more the plot unravels, the more fun it gets with silly action and sillier characters. It's safe to say the inclusion of so many sweet references make this more entertaining than it could have been, but that's not a bad thing because Schaffer knows what he is working with and doesn't forget the target audience and what they love.
And it's wonderful to see a certain anthropomorphic blue speedster return for his moment in the spotlight.
It's close to being this generation's 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', but without that wow factor. But it's a family friendly return to cartoons and animation, with a fun story, voice cast and cameos a-plenty!
'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' is a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films.