Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers Review
Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers Synopsis: Thirty years after their popular television show ended, chipmunks Chip and Dale live very different lives. When a cast member from the original series mysteriously disappears, the pair must reunite to save their friend.
Chip n’ Dale exists as a minor cog in Disney’s expansive library. Even The House of Mouse seems well aware of the characters’ niche cultural standing, leaving the comedic duo on the sidelines over the past two decades as other characters receive modern interpretations.
Most of these Disney reboots sink under their oppressively flavorless design. Shockingly enough, leave it to Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers to truly reinvent the studio’s creative wheelhouse. Wearing the imprint of self-referential comedies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit on its sleeve, Rescue Rangers humorously wrestles with its very own existence in the studio’s most inspired reboot to date.
Originally pitched as a 3D revamp in the vein of Alvin in the Chipmunks, Rescue Rangers showcases a rare level of industry intellect for the family film genre. Director Akiva Schaffer and writing duo Dan Gregor and Doug Mand place the superficial standards of the genre under a harsh microscope, humorously mocking its family-friendly peers and even the film’s previously-planned interpretation. Gags poking fun at storied pop culture icons and industry practices possess surprising bite on Gregor and Mand’s behalf. The duo soundly blends their inside-Hollywood perspective with enough light-hearted pratfalls to please kids and adults alike.
I appreciate that Disney is finally showcasing a little self-awareness in criticizing the factory-like structure of popularized reboots – which often distorts their original material to an unrecognizable and cynically-manufactured state. The bargain-bin “Aslyumn” scene, the over-prevalence of crossover films, and even the creepy Robert Zemekis animation era also receive proper comedic skewering through several well-articulated barbs.
At the same time, Rescue Rangers works effectively as an agreeable family film. Schaffer skillfully traverses through familiar plotting machinations with enough spirited winks at the camera to quiet the lingering familiarity. It also helps that John Mulaney and Andy Samberg infuse droves of charisma into their interpretations of Chip n’ Dale. The two comedic stalwarts showcase a natural comedic rapport, sharing an affectionate onscreen energy as two former stars rekindling their forgotten friendship.
Audiences are in for a genuine surprise with how reflectively Rescue Rangers confronts the noisy emptiness of studio-manufactured family films. That said, it feels like the concept deserves even more exploration than what’s onscreen. Even with my praise of Disney, it feels like the studio takes more pleasure in pouring dirt on failed experiments rather than truly reckoning with their complex industry practices (a lot of the harshest gags gear towards Disney’s notable rivals).
A more balanced critique could have made Rescue Rangers an all-time great, but the final product still imbues much-needed vitality into its critique of the well-worn reboot formula.
Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers debuts on Disney+ on May 20.