There were several cartoons in the late ’80s and early ‘90s that I adored, but I was a huge fan of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. It was one that I was even hyped to play the NES game, whenever I was able to rent it from our local store. Gadget, Monterey Jack, Chip, Zipper – and, of course – Dale all really clicked for me. I loved the detective story element of it, and the humor was a favorite of mine. Needless to say that when I saw that Disney+ was releasing a film called Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) with Andy Sandberg and John Mulaney in a hybrid live-action/CG animated feature film, I was super hyped. Now that I’ve seen it, I’ll say that it did not disappoint.
The first major change is that we aren’t watching the show, but rather the “real-life” chipmunk actors years after they starred in the successful cartoon show Rescue Rangers. Yes, this should immediately feel like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), and this new film directed by Akiva Schaffer is the closest to that Zemeckis masterpiece. The nature of the storytelling, of course, allows for a lot of commentary on Hollywood and the film industry, while also getting to make a number of jokes that are easy to miss if you’re not watching attentively.
The general story here is that Chip and Dale had a falling out after the show ended, and they have gone about their lives quite differently. Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) calls both, looking for help from a stinky situation as his cheese addiction has put him in debt with the wrong type of people. When things look bad, Chip and Dale are forced to try and repair their broken friendship, while trying to reclaim their Rescue Rangers detective personas once again – only to actually save their friend’s life.
One very funny decision to be found here is that Dale has gone through a procedure to make him a 3D animated character, while Chip is still the traditional 2D look. This only helps to exemplify the difference in their personalities. Dale has stayed in the path of showbiz, but with less than stellar results since going solo. He now seems to work the convention circuit to make a living. Chip has started selling insurance and lives a mostly isolated life with his pet dog. Seeing them interact in the real world, and how this allows Disney to insert tons of other cartoon characters (ala Roger Rabbit) is quite entertaining. Some of the best bits in the movie are just background items suggesting films that will never exist but could be hilarious if they did.
This film was catnip for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Yeah, I’m definitely falling for nostalgia in both the specificity of these characters – but also in the style parody of another beloved film. Nonetheless, I believe Sandberg, Mullaney, and Schaffer – along with the rest of the quite incredible voice cast – seem to love this as well. The amount of joy and sincerity coming out of this film only enhanced my own love. Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.