“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.”

Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writers: Dan Gregor, Doug Mand
Staring: Andy Samberg, John Mulaney, KiKi Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana
Release Date: May 20, 2022
IMDB

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) is one of the best surprises of 2022. Across television and movies, this blend an animation and reality provides clever laughs, fantastic voice performances and a wonderfully self-referential story. Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers is a Disney+ movie that brings both adults and kids to the same table, but gently addresses the deeper thematic issues rather than whack-a-moling them onto the viewers.

The start of Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers paints the picture of a young friendship that blossomed into an incredible start to a career. In a world similar to that of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) with humans and animatronics living together, the dynamic duo become pals at a lunch table in school and then take the television world by storm with their adventures. At the height of their young careers, Dale (Andy Samberg) gets his own show and that leads to a riff between the two. The failed Double-O-Dale show and cancelled Rescue Rangers series leads to a broken friendship that perpetuates for thirty years, until a reunion is needed.

Dale (after some CGI plastic surgery) is trying to relive the glory days at fan conventions and Chip (John Mulaney) us a successful insurance salesman filling his loneliness with a pet dog. The two see each other face to face for the first time in a long time when former co-star Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) calls upon them to help him. He has found himself in a situation…owing quite a bit of money to the criminal Valley Gang, which is headed by an adult, evil version of Peter Pan, Sweet Pete (Will Arnett). Monterey Jack goes on a diatribe talking about how animated characters are being kidnapped and forced into a twisted form of slavery making B-Rate movies. Chip ‘N Dale is don’t seem to believe it at all…but perhaps they should.

Monterey Jack gets taken, which leads us to the characters Police Captain Putty (J.K. Simmons) and Officer Ellie Steckler (KiKi Layne). Chip ‘N Dale are questioned about the matter and immediately get the sense that Captain Putty doesn’t care too much about the well being of their old friend. So begins the mystery caper of two old friends looking for their kidnapped friend. Let the chaotic fun begin.

Chip & Dale meet with Sweet Pete and survive his thugs and attempted kidnappings. The two chipmunks make a new friend in Officer Steckler and also reunite with Rescue Rangers co-stars Gadget Hackwrench (Tress MacNeille) and Zipper (Corey Burton). With a gang and new and old at their side, Chip & Dale lead one final chaotic mission to save their friend, expose Sweet Pete, and highlight hidden corruptions and betrayals that allowed the seedy underworld to grow as dangerous as it did.

There are the connecting moments of Chip ‘N Dales: Rescue Rangers the movie to real life that really takes the viewing experience over the top. The dialogue when Chip is telling Monterey Jack to deal with his Stinky Cheese addiction…I mean if you know Mulaney’s story then it is a wonderful bit of hilarious irony. Then there is the idea of growing up together in a comedy world, but diverging on own separate creative journeys. You have to think that both Mulaney and Samberg have personal relationships like that.

Do you think that the animatronics going to B-Rate movies is emblematic of comedians who ended up doing more bit-parts in movies? Or the idea that comedy is diving more into re-hashings rather than being original? This is probably reading too much into a kids movie, but I would love to give the writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand the credit.

Without thinking too deeply, there are plenty of Easter Eggs and great inclusions thrown into Chip ‘N Dales: Rescue Rangers. You can point to the more obvious Ugly Sonic character and his references to society bullying the studio to change his look back in 2020 before Sonic The Hedgehog. You have Lumiere, Randy Marsh, the Simpsons, and many more.

What Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) did so poorly, Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers did right. Nothing was forced or over saturated. No character stayed for longer than it should. The jokes were crisp, skimming by just enough for the quick witted to understand the references.

The best joke in the entire movie comes relatively early on when Chip & Dale are talking about the different types of animation. When they start poking fun at the Polar Express (2004) animation style where you can never tell where the characters are looking or if they are alive or dead…I mean that hit different. I’m glad that they went with the Polar Express for the mass appeal, but I can’t help but think of Beowulf (2007). What a wild in-school movie viewing that movie was.

With all the great jokes and back-and-forth between Chip & Dale, I want to ask the cast of this movie how much of it was improvised. How much of Chip & Dale’s dialogue was with Mulaney & Samberg in the same room looking at one another?

I can only imagine that the technical workers for everyone’s voiceovers were cackling with the jokes that are being thrown out. It had to be hard to stiffle giggles with the talents of Tim Robinson, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, Keegan-Michael Key, and Dennis Haysbert. I know that I was.

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers better than it has any right to be, and it is the best animated movie I have seen thus far from 2022. I was not expecting to be completely sucked in by old animated characters I have little to no connection to, but all credit to the makers of this gem. Worth watching, and worth remembering.

STANKO RATING: A (4.0/5 Stars)


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