Disney, Film

‘Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Review: A Mixed Bag with the best ensemble dark horse

I don’t know if I’m ever going to recover from watching Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers. What the hell am I supposed to do when a Disney movie has the shitty 2019 design of Sonic as a character?

I have so many questions about the world of this movie, and more importantly the production of it – because, once again – UGLY SONIC is an actual character, who actually plays into the plot of a CHIP N DALE movie.

Disney doesn’t just have Ugly Sonic. There’s a South Park character, a Transformer, Peppa Pig, Roger Rabbit…characters from Friendship is Magic.

In the past, I’ve criticized films like this that exist only to show off the number of IPs a company owns. But this isn’t exactly the case with Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers. It’s more of a commentary on the state of the entertainment industry.

But it’s hard for the film to come off as genuine when most of the cameos and IPs shown are from Disney – and when they have the villain be based on a child star whose life when downhill after the company dumped him because he started going through puberty.

I feel very conflicted about this movie.

PLOT

The movie takes place in a world where humans and cartoon characters live side by side. After Dale left to star in his own TV show, Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers was canceled. Thirty years later, Dale is still coasting on his fame, going to fan conventions and working as a Chippendale’s dancer while Chip is in insurance.

When their old co-star Monterey Jack, goes missing – the two find themselves flung into the criminal underworld – where a villain, Sweet Pete, a grown Peter Pan, changes the appearances of beloved cartoons and forces them to act in bootleg movies for the rest of their life.

With only 48 hours to find their friend, Chip and Dale must join forces to stop Pete.

THE ANIMATION

Considering that this was a blend of cel-shaded animation, CGI animation, and live-action everything looked good. I liked how they integrated all the different styles of animation into the world, and they still looked like they existed together. The ‘traditionally’ animated characters are cel-shaded 3-D figures. Chip is the exception.

If you’re going to have traditional vs. CGI animation be part of your movie – you gotta commit. At least they got the Uncanny Valley characters right – those are supposed to look wrong. And they’re definitely creepy.

They probably could have made Ugly Sonic a little less appealing.

He’s still ugly – but not as horrifying as his original incarnation

META-COMMENTARY

Admittedly, I had a lot of fun watching this film. My boyfriend and I were constantly pointing out the cameos and references to other animated media. Some of them were only on screen for a split second which made it all the more challenging.

As a film that is very dependent on referential humor and meta-commentary, Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers manages to avoid the trap of just being a giant commercial for the brand – mostly because doesn’t just feature Disney characters.

How they got permission to use these characters – I don’t know. Whose idea was it to put in the actual characters? I gotta know.

The film constantly makes fun of the state of modern animation – from classic hand-drawn characters getting CGI surgery to characters rapping in order to remain relevant. The world is also very dependent on reboots, cross-overs, remakes, etc. to the point of Meryl Streep starring in Mr. Doubtfire

 But nothing really comes out of these things. Some of it is good world-building but – becoming CGI is more akin to plastic surgery…And the way that so many characters remain relevant over the years raises questions.    

SO MANY QUESTIONS

How does aging work? Chip and Dale were in elementary school in the 80’s but the characters existed before then. Except in this universe, they didn’t exist till Rescue Rangers. The Alvin and The Chipmunks characters exist – but they still appear to be young and have the CGI surgery. So how old are they?

Do animators exist in this world? If there’s such thing as CGI surgery does that mean Ugly Sonic used to be 2-D? What about regular Sonic?

Peter Pan – appears to be in his 50’s or 60’s in the movie. The movie Peter Pan came out in 1953. If Peter was the same as his voice actor, he would have been around 12 when the movie came out…Assuming Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers takes place in 2022 – Peter Pan would be 85.

Even taking the fictional aspect into consideration – the world has some holes.

If you’re going to have a world where our beloved cartoon characters are basically actors – you have to treat them like humans in terms of aging or find a way to explain in-universe, that toons have different physiology.

Or something.

THE KNOCK-OFFS

Some of the cartoon characters in the film are kidnapped and are forced to make bad bootlegged versions of their movies. But why do they need bootlegged versions in this world?

It was never really gets explained. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to have people who look like the characters perform? I get a lot of the cartoon actors are kind of washed-up – but seriously, PEPPA PIG went missing in this world. That is a whole-ass child.

She is one of the most popular children’s characters and there’s not an uproar over her disappearance?

Nobody is going to think that it’s weird how all these knock-off movies are coming out soon after a character from the movie they’re based on went missing? I understand the police have nothing to go in the film – but it just seems like an overly convoluted scheme on Pan’s part.

Also apparently THE SIMPSONS are also victims of the bootlegged scheme – which…raises many questions about the show in the universe.

THE HUMOR

Dale is a Chippendale dancer; a police officer becomes sterile after being attacked by the characters from Paw Patrol…there’s a lot this movie gets away with considering its PG rating.

And that’s a strong point in the movie’s favor. It’s definitely not a Chip ‘N Dale movie so much as it is a spiritual successor to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Characters from Beavis and Butthead and Fritz the Cat also all make appearances. So, it’s hard to know who the movie is for. You don’t need to know anything about the original series going into it – the movie gives a good run-down.

And since it’s an in-universe show – you don’t need to know all the intricate details. There are bonuses for fans – but most of it gets spelled out.

There’s no nostalgia to it.

It’s not trying to recapture the feel of the series.

I think the movie could have been improved with a PG-13 rating. Add some more risque humor and darker overtones, and the film could be more interesting. But of course, this is Disney. 

Despite the fact that they absolutely can afford to take risks, they won’t. Except if you consider the risk of completely disrespecting a tragic figure’s memory.

THE CONTROVERSY

My biggest concern with the film is making a grown Peter Pan the villain. Bobby Driscoll, who voiced the character in the Disney movie had been a very popular child star. Driscoll started puberty soon after the film was released. This caused Disney to terminate his contract in 1953.

He used drugs. He also was arrested several times. Eventually, in 1965, he moved to New York in an attempt to start a career on Broadway. He died in 1968. They buried him in a pauper’s grave.

His mother finally identified his remains in 1969. The media announced his death in 1971.

Obviously, Disney making Peter Pan the villain and giving him that specific motivation is problematic. Disney has never really acknowledged their role in Driscoll’s death.

If you don’t the story of Bobby Driscoll, it’s pretty easy to see Sweet Pete as a bitter old man who’s upset about losing his career. And I think that’s what Disney was hoping for. Knowing this really ruins the movie – because the villain could have literally been any other Disney ‘kid’ protagonist and the motive would have still worked.

Sweet Pete is just an insult to Driscoll. 

According to some sources, the original villain was Pluto – who was sick of acting as a regular dog – and was trying to become the ultimate cartoon. Hence, the collection of distinctive items taken from the bootleg victims.

Why this changed – I don’t know. But I think it would have suited the movie better – and wouldn’t have had any baggage tied to it.

UGLY SONIC

The only reason this is getting its own section is that I didn’t totally believe the rumor when it first circulated on Twitter. It would be one thing if Ugly Sonic was a cameo or a one-scene wonder – but the fact that he ends up playing a key role is just hilarious to me.

In 2019, Ugly Sonic was born. This film was first announced in 2014 – and was originally going to be an origin story for the Rescue Rangers. 

The film’s director Akiva Schaffer took control in May 2019. That’s the same month, the studio announced they were redesigning Sonic.

I wonder who might have played the role in a different world.

I am just obsessed with this decision to include Ugly Sonic. This idea has probably made the film way more popular and memefied than it probably deserves. He’s easily the most hilarious and interesting part of the film, from a media critic’s perspective.

At least to me.

Ugly Sonic is a character all his own, and the fact that there’s already a petition to give him his own series, and that he has people thirsting over him is fascinating and a little concerning.

THE SCOOP

This analysis…is not what I thought it would be. The lack of thought put into the world the characters inhabit bothers me. The idea is played off as more of a gimmick than anything else. It doesn’t really explore the implications of such a world.

Which to me is always the whole idea when you do a film like this. Society really isn’t that different – especially since pretty much all the animated characters featured in the film are basically actors.

There’s no real difference between the animated and human citizens. 

But at the same time, I genuinely had a good time while watching this movie. I was genuinely entertained. But I don’t think it’s a brilliant or transformative movie. It was just a good popcorn film.

And there is something valuable about a film that is just simply fun too watch. But the idea of Disney making references to a tragedy that they are directly responsible for – and making the victim into a villain leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There’s no apology for what they did – and no acknowledgment that this actually happened

You can’t blame someone if they watched this movie and just thought it was a commentary on child stars. 

But we can’t ignore that it did happen and rather than apologizing, Disney only acknowledges their role when it found a way to make it profitable. And that’s disgusting.

That’s the scoop.

…………………….

Grade: B-

……………………..

Year of release: 2022

Length: 97 minutes

Producer: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Writers: Dan Gregor, Doug MandStars: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, KiKi Layne

1 thought on “‘Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Review: A Mixed Bag with the best ensemble dark horse”

  1. Very interesting review. I saw a trailer as a pre-roll ad on YouTube and wondered what the heck was going on. Disney is getting overboard with nostalgia baiting and self-aware humor, but now they are cashing in on the multiverse portfolio. The bootlegging plot is bizarre and makes no sense. Was this a potshot against those who called out Disney with the Kimba/TLK or Nadia/Atlantis plagiarism controversies? I’m not sure. Thanks for bringing up the story of Peter Pan’s voice actor. I heard of that story from another blogger when she commented on my Mickey Mouse Monopoly review and it was tragic. If that’s the case, then that is low even for Disney if this was a potshot against Driscoll. Shame on them for not owning up to them contributing to his downfall. I did read spoilers for the movie and (SPOILERS TO THOSE READING) was legit disturbed that they shipped Gadget and Zipper together and have 40-somthing fly/mouse hybrid children! EWWWWWWWWWW! The fridge horror is over 9000. The same Disney fans who bash Shrek on their couples have no right to talk about this movie or even Roger Rabbit if we want to go there (and I’m not even a Shrek fan!). This just looks like a really weird meta-comedy of sorts that plays off nostalgia for bizarre and forced reasons.

Leave a Reply