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Streaming review: 'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' (2022)

Edited by Sonious, GreenReaper as of Sun 22 May 2022 - 17:55
Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (8 votes)

'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' movie posterChip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is the Disney+ streaming service's newest exclusive movie, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring John Mulaney as the voice of Chip and Andy Samberg as Dale, the titular pair of cartoon chipmunks. The movie is mostly live action, but features cartoon characters interacting with this live action world. The movie's relationship with the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers animated television show is a bit complicated. This movie is not a sequel or reboot, but instead takes as its premise that the characters of that show were actors playing parts in a world where cartoons and humans coexist.

The obvious point of comparison is the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, made even more obvious by the fact that Roger Rabbit himself makes a small cameo in this movie. If anything, a few people have interpreted this as taking place in the same world as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, though I'd argue it's actually a bit more meta than that. Unless I'm getting this wrong, the Roger Rabbit that cameos here is another actor who played himself in a movie that is equally fictional in both our world and the world of this movie. Cartoon actors share their names with their characters, for whatever reason. But, the point is, the movie is very meta like that, and though it never explicitly acknowledges it's own fictionality, it's showbiz savvy characters are likely to treat their situation as if it were a movie.

Also like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a major appeal of the movie is nostalgia for its animated characters, both specifically for its titular duo, as well as a series of cameos and walk-ons from others. While this sort of thing can be fun, it can also come off as a cynical branding exercise. However, the movie manages to avoid the pitfalls of this sort of thing better than most.

Chip and Dale, according to this movie, met and became friends in grade school, bonding over their shared misfit status, rather than their shared species, as one would suspect. Discovering they worked well together as entertainers, they moved to Hollywood, eventually becoming the stars of their own show with Rescue Rangers. However, when Dale tries to start up his own show, it puts a rift between him and Chip, leading to the cancellation of Rescue Rangers. Three decades later, Chip is now an insurance salesman, and Dale makes his living selling autographs on the convention circuit. Note that the character's roles in Disney animated shorts before Rescue Rangers are never brought up, with the implication that they don't exist in this universe.

They're brought back together when fellow cast member of the show Monterey Jack (voiced by Eric Bana) calls them asking for help. He owes a lot of money due to a crippling cheese addiction to a notorious cartoon crime boss, Sweet Pete (voiced by Will Arnett). If he can't pay, he fears he'll be kidnapped and turned into a "bootleg" copy of himself and be forced to make cheap knockoff movies to be sold on the black market. The movie is actually really dark, though the tone stays light and the pace quick, so it never seems as dark as it is in the moment. Before the duo of chipmunks can even begin to help their friend, his fears prove correct, and he is kidnapped. The duo end up having to put aside their differences to come to the rescue of their friend. They're helped by human police officer Ellie (KiKi Layne) and claymation police captain Putty (voiced by J.K. Simmons), while Seth Rogen plays a motion capture dwarf henchman of Pete's.

The two remaining cast members of the show, Gadget and Zipper, are in the movie. They don't appear for most of the movie because, in universe, unlike Monty, they seem pretty content with their post fame lives, and just never got mixed up in any nefarious dealings, and out of universe, eventually being brought into the plot in the third act serves as a nice final pop for the fans. It is revealed that Zipper's mute status in the show was part of the act, and he's actually got the voice of Dennis Haysbert. Gadget fans will be pleased she retains her original voice actor, Tress MacNeille, and even her personality, admitting that she was essentially playing herself in the show.

Besides the meta commentary on the situation, a lot of humor derives from the sheer weirdness of the setting. Scale jokes abound, including the absurd image of Chip being absolutely dwarfed by his pet dog, or scenes set in a mouse sized hotel which is shot at a mouse eye level causing officer Ellie to loom like Godzilla in the background. The world, which features puppet characters in addition to animated, is full of nefarious types who use the fact that they look like a Muppet reject or cute child to their own advantage, both a plot point in universe, and pretty funny out of it.

Most of the animated characters are not actually cameos, but just people who happen to be animated characters. The movie is set in and around Hollywood, however, so when there are cameos, they do have an in universe explanation. For instance, there are a lot of cameos at the convention Dale is a low tier guest at, where it would make sense for a lot of "stars" to appear. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the cameos are not Disney IP, but seem to mostly come from NBC/Universal. In fact, most Disney characters appearing are either portrayed as outright villains, hapless victims, sad has-beens, or some combination thereof. Perhaps in order to get access to those characters, the trade off was the toned down use of Disney's own characters. Either way, while there are a few background appearances that are there just to be there, most of the characters featured were chosen for either specific plot points, world building or to make a joke work. It did not come off as just IP based marketing disguised as a movie to me.

The animation is good, but you can tell the supposed "traditionally" animated characters are also computer generated, but just made to look hand drawn. Honestly, Dale's "CGI upgrade" looks pretty good, and the joke behind it also works. J.K. Simmons' character, Captain Putty, is a visual stand out, with his stop motion inspired visuals.

I've seen a few other reviewers say this was good enough it should have gone ahead and gotten a theatrical release (unlike Turning Red, this was always planned as a streaming exclusive). I can't argue too much with that assessment, though it maybe would have been better in a less competitive month if it had. As it stands, if you have a Disney+ account, there's no reason not to watch this. I'm not sure it's worth getting the subscription for this alone, but if you can't find something you like on Disney+ as a furry, you need to relax your standards. Okay, this movie may not be as good as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but you also get Who Framed Roger Rabbit, anyway.


Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Haven't seen the movie, but reading this review it kind of confirmed my thoughts on what it is.

It's Bojack Horseman with Chip and Dale as the front characters.

You see, back in the 90s, they were in a very famous TV show.

But sometimes the writers accidently(?) got too close to the real tragedies of Hollywood, there was one scene with Peter Pan lamenting that after he grew older that Hollywood basically just dropped him. You know, as a play on his character's concept of never growing old. However, this literally happened the voice actor of the Disney's Peter Pan film. They got addicted to drugs after they had trouble getting gigs as they grew older. They took their own life.

This is why the mainstream media/Hollywood's embracing of the "Hollywood's abusive hyuk hyuk..." bit is going to be a bit dangerous. It is, thanks for reminding us.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

A bit of a tangent, but I was watching one of the more recent Scooby-Doo movies. In the middle of the 'toon someone calls the meddling kids "you meddling kids," to which Velma responds "this is the first time we've been called 'meddling kids' before we solved the mystery."

This is why MAD Magazine went out of business: everything is so aware of its own tropes these days, there's no need for an outside perspective to point them out or make fun of them.

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Yeah, the thing is, I've seen this take a lot from people who haven't seen the movie, and, honestly, this take is way more cynical then the actual movie.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

UPDATE: Just read a review that underlined this was the total premise of the film (not just one throwaway scene): Peter Pan takes revenge on the industry for dropping him when he hit puberty. I've absolutely NO interest in seeing a film building off an actual tragedy. (Plus I never liked Roger Rabbit anyway; I always thought it was the most expensive piece of fanfic ever created: George to Steve (or vice versa): hey, let's do a story where Bugs meets Mickey Mouse, and all the other characters exist in the real world...")

ORIGINAL COMMENT: there was one scene with Peter Pan lamenting that after he grew older that Hollywood basically just dropped him

Wow, I hope that line was just a gag from a writer who wasn't familiar with Bobby Driscoll's (Peter Pan's voice actor) story--otherwise it was in ghoulishly poor taste. (FYI: )

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

You are *very* wrong about "Roger Rabbit" if you think *that's* where the idea came from. The movie was based on a book, "Who Censored Roger Rabbit?", written by Gary K. Wolf and published in 1981, several years before the movie. Neither Spielberg nor Lucas had any involvement in the book, or in the subsequent movie script adapted from it; the script for the movie was written by Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman. (Who, among other things, went on to write numerous episodes of the "Tales from the Crypt" series.)

Steven Spielberg was merely "executive producer" (which, in Hollywood-speak, means "guy who puts up the money or uses his industry clout to help get your movie into production"), and George Lucas wasn't involved in it beyond the fact that his FX company, Industrial Light & Magic, did a lot of the optical compositing work to combine the live-action and animation footage.

(And "Bugs meets Mickey Mouse" for less than 1 minute of screen time in a 104-minute movie. Seems a little strange to write a fan-fic in which your two main crossover characters appear for *literally* less than 1% of the story, and aren't even integral to the plot...)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Supposedly they were basically contracted to share the screen at the same time as well since Disney and WB said they wouldn't allow the cross over unless their big stars had equal screen time.

Which is why Donald/Daffy share a scene and Bugs/Mickey share a scene, to keep to that obligation.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Pretty much, yeah. The "equal time" contract was such a piece of work that when the movie originally went to home video, they even had to be careful how they "pan-and-scanned" the scene with Bugs & Mickey (cropping the 16:9 movie frame to fit the 4:3 aspect ratio of standard-def TV sets, for those of you too young to remember those :D ) so that they would each have *exactly* the same amount of on-screen time even after the image was panned back and forth between them on each line of dialogue. Even the fact that Mickey pulls his parachute's ripcord a few frames before Bugs does, and thus disappears off the top of the screen a few frames earlier, had to be accounted for.

I don't envy the film-to-video transfer tech who had to deal with *that* pain in the butt!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I'm totally aware "Who Framed" was based on "Who Censored." I never read it, but I read that Roger spoke in word balloons that popped into view over his head, not speech. Again, having never read it, were actual cartoon characters (Mickey, Bugs etc) part of the story, or obvious substitutes?

You're right Lucas was apparently not involved in the film: I didn't see his or even ILM's name in the IMDB credits (not sure where I got that idea), but Steven was listed as one of the exec producers, which means he was behind the film in spirit (and $) if not actually hands on. (Although I'm sure he offered advice when he could or was asked.)

But to quote Philip J. Fry, "my point remains valid:" bringing 'toon characters into the "real world" and mixing together several studios' worth (not just Bugs/Mickey & Donald/Daffy) is still fanfic, whether it's a story posted on Fur Affinity for free or an expensive movie playing in the multiplex.

The thing is, I went in there wanting/expecting to love the film, but instead found it joyless and mannered ("pretentious/self-conscious/stilted" - - I actually left the theater feeling depressed. Plus Roger himself was incredibly whiny and irritating - no surprise he never caught on as a character in his own right.

But that's just my personal opinion; as they say on TV Tropes, "YMMV."

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The book did feature cameos of several other characters, yes -- although since the setting and plot revolved around comic-strip characters (hence the "toons" speaking with actual word balloons appearing over their heads) rather than animated cartoons, the cameos were characters like Snoopy, Hagar the Horrible, Dick Tracy, Blondie & Dagwood, and so on.

The change from comic-strip characters to animated characters was primarily because while everyone involved loved the idea of a film-noir murder mystery in a toon/human world, they realized pretty early on that while having the toons be comic-strip characters speaking in word balloons worked well enough in a printed novel, it would never work as a motion picture.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Oopsie, it took me a few weeks to remember no, Stevie and George DIDN'T collaborate on Roger Rabbit; What they had in common is each made his OWN movie starring an anthro animal: George's was "Howard the Duck." I think I mentioned it in "Furry Nation" (been a while since I've read my own book) - if you invested money in a movie about a talking animal made (or overseen) by one of the most successful filmmakers of all time, you would've made a lot of money from "Roger Rabbit" - and lost your shirt backing "Howard the Duck."

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 4 (6 votes)

This was horrible. Think just as bad as the CGI 'Tom and Jerry' movie. The only things this had in common with 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' was a cameo by said rabbit and a mix of humans and toons interacting. That was a classic film, this is a waste of storage space. The attempts at humor aren't funny, the attempts at serious come off as forced and horribly voice acted. There's no need for anyone else to waste that amount of their lifetime seeing this bit of low budget crap.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

I was starting to worry about you! Where you been?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Making a movie which makes incessant reference to other, better movies and characters is no substitute for making an actual movie with actual characters.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I enjoy the classic Looney Tunes I grew up (or never grew up) on - but so much of their humor is based on repeating catchphrases popular at the time they were made that probably leave contemporary viewers completely puzzled; I have the feeling these films will age exactly the same way.

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

One theory is that these major companies are doing a dump of their IPs so that they don't expire.

I mean, seems cynical to me, but you never know.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I hear that's not an uncommon practice. The one that immediately comes to mind is a super-cheap quickie version of "The Fantastic Four" that was produced in 1994 & never officially released to allow the producer to hold onto the rights to make an big-budget F4 movie at some point in the future: (looks like this link isn't clickable; copy/pasting it into the browser window should get you there.)

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

True, but that's more of a contractural-obligation thing than a copyright or trademark thing. It wasn't that either the copyrights or trademarks on the Fantastic Four -- which were/are owned by Marvel Comics -- were about to expire; it was just that there was a "use-it-or-lose-it" clause in the contract with the film's producer which said that if he or his production company *didn't* do something with the property within a certain period of time, Marvel could take the usage rights back and offer them to someone else who *would* do something with it.

(There are also conflicting stories about whether it was never intended to be released or not; one version of the story says that it *was* originally going to be released, but a Marvel executive decided at the last moment that such a low-budget film would cheapen the entire franchise, so he basically bought the film outright and then ordered all prints destroyed so it couldn't be released.)

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

On the other hand, Winnie the Pooh finally went public domain ... and we're getting a Hundred Acre Woods horror movie.

Which also seems cynical.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

That would only work as far as retaining the trademarks, not the copyrights.

For those who might not know the difference:

Trademarks are, to a great extent, a use-it-or-lose-it situation; a company has to keep the trademark in active use in order to not have it expire, or be declared "abandoned" and available for some other entity to acquire. The period on this is actually relatively short -- typically 3 years of non-use is enough to consider the trademark abandoned. Trademarks are also very specific; Disney's trademarks on the specific versions of the Peter Pan, Robin Hood, etc. in their particular movies, for example, does not give them blanket rights over the *idea* of the characters or all possible versions thereof.

Copyrights don't actually have to be used to retain them -- they exist for a fixed period of time, whether you publish, reprint, or reissue the work or not. A reprint or reissue during that time doesn't extend the copyright term -- and nor does simply mentioning or briefly using one or more of the characters from that particular work in an entirely different one.

So, pulling an "IP dump" might help Disney retain the *trademarks* on their own specific versions of the characters as they appeared in their own movies, but it's not going to keep the *copyrights* on those movies (or cartoon shorts, TV shows, etc.) from expiring on schedule.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

It's worse now because a lot of shows are behind paywalls, so you have to have been subscribed and watching at the time.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (4 votes)

Honestly, I quit my Disney Plus account so at this point I don't even care. There are other streaming platforms which offer a variety of furry content as is, such as Tubi and HBO MAX. Nobody needs to see this movie, especially after the demonic possession themed version of Netflix's Cuties that was Turning Red. It was bad enough they made a movie that promoted Satanism, but I drew the line at going after children. Yes, I've seen clips from this film and they're very funny, but that is not enough to get me to support this subversive corporation. It would take a sequel where Mei Lin Lee is killed by Chip N' Dale with a plane crash to even begin to make up for the damage they've done.

One AntiChrist (Rey Skywalker) was bad enough, we don't need anymore.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

That's funny, because unlike a fictional character such as Rey Skywalker, the AntiChrist has been walking among us for many years. In the past decade he has seduced and acquired millions of followers, willing to ignore his blatant corruption, lies and bigotry. He doesn't even pretend to be a devout follower of Jesus, but instead repeatedly urges his followers to hate others who disagree with him or simply because they are "different;" in fact he has urged them to physically attack those he sees as his opponents*. The fact that many true Christians have accepted this man as their leader saddens and sickens me.

"If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for their legal fees."

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 1 (4 votes)

I also forgot about Iron Man, who acted as the Satan/AntiChrist figure when fighting Thanos' Christ in both Avengers Infinity War and Endgame.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I mean, Carrie's mom also considered menstruation demonic possession, so if you do have a daughter please don't send her to the prom.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

When I got the invite for my 10-year high school reunion I sent back a note saying "sorry, I'm going to be watching "Carrie" that night :-P

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

I watched Kaiser's review of Chip 'n Dale (which includes clips likely to act as spoilers) and one point that struck me is the abandonment of building consistent original worlds in favour of mashing characters from disparate series together, as seen to a lesser extent in Space Jam: A New Legacy. I share the view that while this was a fun a decade ago, it's now overused - and it's hard to suspend belief when there's a constant parade of differently-styled character models on view.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

I got a huge laugh out of all the salt about the whole Gadget x Zipper thing to be honest. To me it just seemed like a goofy joke, but holy shit did some people take it really seriously. And reading some of the cringier comments I definitely had a good laugh.

I think this movie is a fun little spiritual successor to Roger Rabbit.

Also now that it's out on Netflix by the way, you should definitly do a review of Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness. (I think it deserves some love! I liked it a lot. And it'd actually be a real shame if furrydom missed out on that one just because it's not produced by the Evil Mouse Empire or some big name like that.)

Seriously, don't sleep on Chickenhare! ... Or do... whatever. But I'd recommend giving it a watch personally. (I'd take this one over that Turning Red crapola ANY day.)

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

The sad part is all they had to do to have an actually fun movie that fans would have enjoyed would have been to get the team back together to go do a rescue per the original series. Anyone with any fondness for the original series would have known that. What we got was pretty much the antithesis of that.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

It has now won an Emmy for Best TV Movie.

There's been some controversy about the win, and, no, not about quality or anything furries would complain about, but whether or not it's really a TV movie with the being a streaming movie and all.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I'm sure the Hallmark Channel is devastated.

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