Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers review – millennial nostalgia catnip from two thirds of the Lonely Island

This meta reboot of the popular Nineties TV show is essentially a modern-day riff on ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’

Clarisse Loughrey
Friday 20 May 2022 08:58
Comments
Chip 'N' Dale: Rescue Rangers

Dir: Akiva Schaffer. Starring: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, JK Simmons, KiKi Layne. PG, 98 minutes.

It’s amazing what you can get away with under the pretence of irony. Take Disney Plus’s Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers – a return to the popular Nineties animated TV series, which rebranded some of Mickey Mouse’s oldest friends as rambunctious detectives. Unlike the largely sincere 2017 Ducktales reboot that featured David Tennant as the voice of Scrooge McDuck, the reins here have been tossed over to Akiva Schaffer (of the SNL comedy trio The Lonely Island, and the director of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and Walk Hard) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand. They’ve clearly been given carte blanche to go as weird and meta as their little comedian hearts desire.

Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers does not introduce a new generation to Disney’s squishy cheeked, chipmunk troublemakers. It is, at best, baseline comprehensible to a general audience. But to millennials who want to indulge in childhood nostalgia but insist that they’re too smart and self-aware to fall for the rest of Disney’s reboot culture? Oh, it’s catnip.

Tactically positioned as a modern-day riff on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it places Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (another Lonely Island alum, Andy Samberg) in a version of our world that’s populated by both live-action and animated characters. Here the pair are actors who, in the Nineties, starred in the original Rescue Rangers TV show – but quietly fell out after Dale’s ego saw him chase solo stardom.

Chip has since quit the industry. He sells insurance. Dale, now CGI after some very expensive surgery, peddles autographs at fan conventions, in a booth next to Beauty and the Beast’s Lumiere (he keeps burning all the cash that’s handed to him, it’s a depressing sight). One night, their Rescue Rangers co-star Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is kidnapped by a shadowy figure known only as Sweet Pete (Will Arnett). Since the police, and specifically Captain Putty (a riff on Gumby voiced by JK Simmons) and rookie detective Ellie (a live-action KiKi Layne), are trapped behind too much red tape to help, the duo are forced to reunite so that whatever’s wrong gets solved – as the old Rescue Rangers theme tune used to go.

The most impressive thing Schaffer, Gregor, and Mand have achieved here is a true cross-franchise, cross-studio smorgasbord of surprise cameos – to mention any of them feels like ruining half the fun. How did the filmmakers negotiate some of these appearances? It feels almost like a magic trick, some odd feat of cinematic illusion. And while, honestly, we’re still deep in the realm of “branded content” à la Marvel crossovers and the recent Space Jam reboot, it’s oddly refreshing to watch one of these mash-up films and not feel actively co-opted into a corporation’s synergy efforts. There are appearances here that feel like they were chosen because they were genuinely funny, not because they’re helpful in advancing some executive’s five-year plan.

Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers sees fit to both indulge in nostalgia – largely through Ellie’s wide-eyed adoration of the old show – and poke fun at it. Disneyland’s Main Street and all its rosy Americana turns out to be a black market for untraceable weapons and muppet fights. Meanwhile, the villain’s hideout is located in the Uncanny Valley – where you’ll find the cats from Cats rustling around near the bins and Seth Rogen’s motion capture minion Bob sporting soulless “Polar Express eyes”. Is it a little cynical to sneak in a reboot under the guise of wry, cultural commentary? Yes. Did it still make me laugh? Also yes.

‘Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ is streaming on Disney Plus from Friday 20 May

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in