by Charles Kirkland, Jr.
The Lonely Island crashes into the Disney Channel’s afternoon block by taking on the story of everyone’s favorite adventure heroes, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers.
Thirty years ago, Chip and Dale were riding high with their television show. The Rescue Rangers were a hit and beloved by everyone. After three seasons, the show disappeared, and the Rangers disbanded and went their separate ways. Now Chip (John Mulaney) is a bored but top-selling insurance agent. Gadget and Zipper are off raising their children. Dale, who unwittingly torpedoed the show, is stuck in the past and has undergone a CG surgery to update his looks and hopefully get a reboot of the Rescue Rangers show. Meanwhile, Monterey Jack has found a horrible secret that threatens the industry and calls Chip and Dale for help. They refuse to help and then Jack disappears. Can the dynamic duo put aside their past, work together again and save their friend?
Written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers stars the voice talents of Andy Samberg and John Mulaney along with Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, Keegan Michael Key, Jim Cummings, and Dennis Haysbert and the acting talents of Kiki Layne. The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer. Schaffer and Samberg are two-thirds of the comedy group, The Lonely Island who have brought us such hilarity as “I’m On a Boat” with T-Pain and Popstar: Never Stop Popping (The third member of the Island, Jorma Taccone, voices Batman in the film).
Yes, Batman. Rescue Rangers exists in a Roger Rabbit-like world where cartoons exist along with humans and Chip, Dale and crew were just actors playing roles for a television show. Rangers goes a little further by incorporating many different animation styles in this world. Every style is included, from regular, 2D animation to the CGI style that Dale rocks to the weird nobody-knows-the-name style from The Polar Express. As a result, Schaffer and the crew pack as many animated characters into this film as they can find. It is almost like an Easter egg hunt in locating and naming all of the characters and items, some from Disney properties, some not. Nobody seems to be off-limits, especially as you pass through their wacky “comic convention.” Keep your head on a swivel though because you will see a lot.
The next wonderful thing about this movie is the recruitment of voice talent for the movie. J.K. Simmons (the hardest working actor alive right now) is fabulous as Captain S. Putty, a Claymation character who looks and sounds like Commissioner Gordon (because he is). Eric Bana does a spot-on voice-over of Monterey Jack. Dennis Haysbert, who many remember as the Allstate Insurance guy or the president on 24, has a golden role as a character that will not be spoiled here.
Granted, most of the people who know, remember, and love Rescue Rangers are in their mid-to-late thirties, and this film caters to that love perfectly. It also opens doors to new fans through accessible humor for all ages, incredible creativity, and the wonderful Kiki Layne who is the bridge between the human and animated worlds playing a new detective who is a total fan of the show.
Since the whole Black Widow incident, I thought that Disney had abandoned the straight to Disney+ model. But with this film and the equally entertaining Better Nate Than Ever which came out earlier in the year, it is evident that Disney has just too many top-notch products to release. I believe that if this film were released in the theaters, it certainly would have given Top Gun: Maverick a run for its money.
Rated PG for mild action and rude/suggestive humor (it is The Lonely Island, after all), Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers is just a whole lot of fun. It is a sarcastic and sometimes sardonic but incredibly amusing look at the seedy underbelly of the world of animation. It is an unexpected and heartwarming treat.
Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers can be seen on Disney+ starting May 20.