Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Review): A Very Meta Comeback
With a quick moving plot, funny moments, and plenty of great animation, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers brings the title characters back in style.
Even as a fan of the original Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers animated series, I wasn’t so sure how this film based on it would turn out. When this adaptation was unveiled, my excitement was replaced with confusion because of the fact that John Mulaney and Andy Samberg would star as the voices of the titular pair. Though I think both actors are funny, films with celebrities voicing beloved animated characters don’t exactly have the best track record (Looking at you, 2011’s The Smurfs).
Time passed and I basically forgot about it until the first trailer dropped. That trailer was actually pretty decent and immediately gave me Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) vibes, and no, that wasn’t just because Roger himself made an appearance in it. 2022’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers actually looked good to me, even with Mulaney and Samberg using their regular voices to voice Chip and Dale. This movie sounded cool and way too good to be true, and I figured the rug would be swept out from under me at any moment once it released on Disney+. I mean, just think about the concept of the chipmunks being former actors on the successful Chip ‘n Dale cartoon and living in a fictional world filled with humans and cartoons (and thus explaining why they speak normally). There’s no way there isn’t a catch, right?
Now that it’s here, I’m thrilled to reveal that Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is actually really good. However, it’s also very meta in a way that some may not be too comfortable with.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers sees Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) living in a fictionalized present-day world populated by both humans and cartoon characters. The duo were once the stars of their own cartoon (the Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers series that this film is based on) in the 1980s. 30 years after the show ended, Chip and Dale are estranged, but must team up again when one of their former castmates mysteriously goes missing.
Just that synopsis alone might be too meta for you, and if that’s the case, you may not like what Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers has to offer. The film is very meta and contains plenty of cameos and references throughout its 98-minute runtime. Those cameos/references aren’t just from properties owned by Disney either. Much like with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which famously featured a scene with Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse interacting, you never know who will show up or be referenced in Rescue Rangers.
This is similar to Space Jam: A New Legacy, which featured cameos from a number of Warner Bros. properties. Even though I enjoyed both, Chip ‘n Dale tells a much better story than the Space Jam sequel did and is also much more ambitious in scope with its use of several different styles of animation. You’ll see Chip and Dale not only interact with human characters like Det. Ellie Steckler (KiKi Layne), a police officer and fan of the Rescue Rangers working on the missing toon cases, and with her supervisor, Captain Putty (J.K. Simmons), a claymation police detective.
Chip, Dale, and Putty blend so well with the real world around them, much like the human and animated characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, that you’ll be pulled in and believe these characters were all right next to each other during filming. Throughout the narrative, Chip and Dale will interact with various types of characters, and that believability never really goes away. A lot of kudos must be given to the animators and those working behind the scenes to put this film together.
Speaking of the narrative, it’s very fast paced and doesn’t drag at all. The story feels like a big episode of the original Chip ‘n Dale once it gets digging into the mystery, right down to the way things wrap up really quickly at the end. Most of the comedy comes from the meta nature of this Rescue Rangers film, but it also uses any cameos in an effective and hilarious way. Even the smallest of cameos throughout were able to elicit a chuckle or at least a reaction. Again, it might be too much for some, because the meta nature of the story never really takes a break. However, take comfort in knowing that these also still very much feel like the Rescue Rangers of old, only with an added twist of them being actors on an old show. Mulaney taps into Chip’s optimism perfectly, while Samberg is the ideal person to voice the happy, go with the flow character that is Dale.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers tells a story that is very meta, but it also has heart and was clearly written by individuals that understood the original series. The cartoon was about mysteries, action, and above all else, friendship, and the 2022 film has all that and more. I can’t really go into the mystery without getting into spoiler territory, but it’s one that is unique, funny, interesting the whole way through. You’ll also get plenty of references to the show or about the show, and even see merchandise from the show, all of which is certainly going to make you feel nostalgic.
Thanks to a solid story, hilarious moments, and great animation, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers manages to bring the duo back and not feel like a shameless cash in on an old intellectual property. If you go into this film expecting that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much that it does well. There’s a good mystery, plenty of comedic moments, superb animation done in so many different styles, and it has the heart of the original show despite also having a meta nature. This new Chip ‘n Dale film is definitely worth your time, even if you’re on the fence about watching.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is now streaming on Disney+.