CHIP AND DALE: RESCUE RANGERS. In the multiverse of fun

“Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers” is not another traditional adaption.

Lukasz Budnik

23 October 2022

“Sometimes, some crimes go slippin’ through the cracks”. If at the sight of these words you involuntarily recreated the melody in your head, then years ago you certainly watched the adventures of the Rescue Rangers, led by Chip and Dale. The heroes are now back in a feature-length film that was created for the Disney + platform. However, this is by no means a straightforward adaptation of a popular animation.

The original series debuted in 1989 and ran a total of three seasons. As viewers, we could follow the adventures of a detective group whose members – in addition to the title squirrels – were Gadget, Monterey Jack and Zipper. 65 episodes were made and the show gained great popularity. Store shelves were filled with the images of the heroes, and if someone wanted to become Chip and Dale, they could reach for the still popular games for the Nintendo Entertainment System platform.

Festival of attractions

Directed by Akiva Schaffner from The Lonely Island group, the film is not another traditional Rangers’ adventure. Filmmakers created the world in which Rescue Rangers series also exists and Chip and Dale are simply actors playing their fictional versions. The actual action takes place in present day, 30 years after the show has been canceled due to Dale’s unfortunate decision that put him at odds with Chip. The former is still fighting to be remembered by former fans of the series, while the latter leads a quiet, lonely (not counting the dog) life, working as an insurance salesman. The Chipmunks are forced to work together when Monterey is kidnapped by a group that modifies animated characters to cast them in well-known movie bootlegs.

In fact, the plot in the film Chip and Dale is just an excuse to surprise viewers with subsequent cameos and entertain with gags and references to the original series. This is not a big disadvantage, because the creators use a lots of guest characters (in a fun and brilliant way at the same time), pointing to the trends that rule today’s Hollywood, including the tendency to create remakes, spin-offs and crossovers. They also comment on trends from years ago; for example, at some point during the investigation, the squirrels end up in Uncanny Valley filled with characters straight from animated films from the beginning of the 21st century (with empty eyes “like in the Polar Express“). The screenwriters also introduce the topic of addiction to stimulants (in this case … cheese) and plastic surgeries. The aforementioned guest appearances can be counted in dozens, especially since some of the action takes place at a Comic-Con-style convention. Who isn’t there? Characters from classic animations, Disney remakes, popular series from the 80s, as well as modern hits for children and … Cats from 2019. There’s even a wonderful, brilliant reference to the image of Sonic in the original trailer for the 2020 film. All this elevates the whole story to a higher level. Not once does one get the impression of being satiated; rather, the excitement of discovering more easter eggs is dominant. The writers certainly took their inspiration from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The cast

Chip and Dale are played by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, respectively. The former is a recognized comedian, and Samberg is easy to associate with, among others, the Brooklyn 9-9 series, the Palm Springs movie, appearances in Saturday Night Live and with the participation in the already mentioned project The Lonely Island. Both actors suit their roles and give depth to both characters.We also hear Will Arnett as the main villain (whose identity is another proof of the creators’ creativity), J.K. Simmons as the plasticine cop investigating the case, Seth Rogen as a Viking and Eric Bana as Monterey. Tress MacNeille and Corey Bruton reprise their role from the series. With all the animated characters the policewoman played by KiKi Layne is quite forgettable, but it is hard to blame her; her character is mainly used in the script to push Chip and Dale to new places and represents the longtime fans of Rescue Rangers. The scene where Dale shows her his collection of show merchandise is a solid dose of nostalgia.

Good direction

Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers is a film that should be a model for all filmmakers who want to bring a well-known animated series to the big screen. Fortunately, the creators did not go in the direction that the makers of the live-action Smurfs took and did not put animated characters into the world of people, creating another classic fish out of water story. The make an adaptation in the form of a meta-production, which is also a kind of sequel to the original, was a great idea. The creators used a potential of the concept and  created a brilliant, fun, engaging adventure, after which you want to return to the animated series and feel like a child again. And if you do not have a sentimental bond with it, the attractions provided by the creators and the chemistry between the squirrels should still ensure a successful screening.

Łukasz Budnik

Lukasz Budnik

He loves both silent cinema and contemporary blockbusters based on comic books. He looks forward to watching movie with his growing son.

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