My mind mildly alternated between nostalgia and annoyance while I watched “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers”, which was released on Disney+ on last Friday. Because that old Disney TV animation series of the same name has occupied a small but special place among my good old childhood memories for years, I was certainly delighted to see its two little heroes back in action, but I was also sometimes distracted by the overwhelming smorgasbord of intellectual properties in the film, and I must confess that my judgment on the film frequently went back and forth between 2.5 and 3 stars during my viewing.
At first, the film quickly establishes its fantasy world which is virtually the extension of what we saw from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (1988). For many years, human and animation figures have nicely co-existed together, and the opening scene shows the early years of its two main characters: Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) and Dale (voiced by Andy Samberg). Mainly because they were the only two chipmunk animation figures in their school, Chip and Dale quickly befriended each other right from their first encounter, and they went to Hollywood together several years later. Although their first years of acting in Hollywood were not that easy, they eventually became pretty popular because of their TV animation series, and they and several other cast members enjoyed their big success during next several years.
However, getting tired of being sort of second banana to Chip, Dale attempted to begin his own career to Chip’s dismay, and that led to the serious downturn for both of them as their TV animation series was eventually canceled. After giving up his acting career, Chip has earned his living via selling insurance, and Dale, who is turned into a computer graphic animation figure thanks to a ‘surgery’, still tries to revive his popularity despite many other previous failures.
And then there comes one serious case which gathers them together after many years of estrangement. When an old colleague of theirs calls for a certain addiction problem, Chip quickly comes to help this dude, and that is how he comes across Dale, who was also called just like Chip. When their colleague is vanished not long after that, Chip has no choice but to work along with Dale as before for finding their colleague, and Dale is certainly excited because they can be back in business together if they successfully solve the case together and then gain lots of publicity.
While getting some assistance from a plucky human female detective named Ellie Steckler (KiKi Layne), Chip and Dale delve more into the case as following a few clues, and, of course, they soon discover a diabolical criminal scheme involved with a certain famous Disney animation character. I will not go into details on the identity of this villain, but I can tell you instead that Will Arnett has another juicy fun after a number of colorful voice performances during recent several years, and it is a shame that the film does not mention anything about his character’s infamous arch-nemesis.
Once its main characters are established, the film throws lots of actions and gags into the screen as expected, and some of those comic moments in the film are funny enough to draw chuckles from us. While I was tickled by an impromptu rap scene between our two little heroes, I was constantly amused by many different kinds of animation figures appearing in the film, and my biggest laugh in the film comes from an unexpected parody of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991).
However, my mind and eyes also often became tiresome due to heaps of various intellectual properties popping up and here throughout the film. Besides all those familiar stuffs from Disney, the film also borrows lots of other stuffs from other companies including Sony and DreamWorks, so we are served with not only that notorious CGI version of Sonic the Hedgehog but also those dreadful cat figures from, yes, “Cats” (2019). Sure, it is surely a fun to see those numerous references in the film for a while, but it depends a bit too much on flaunting all the intellectual properties it can possibly amass, and that aspect becomes rather vulgar and grotesque during the climax sequence for good reasons.
Anyway, John Mulaney and Andy Samberg are well-cast in their respective roles, and the comic chemistry from their contrasting voice performances keeps holding our interest to the end. Eric Bana, Seth Rogen, Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key, and J.K. Simmons also have each own small fun with their respective animation characters in the film, and KiKi Layne functions well as a solid counterpart to Chip and Dale while playing straight as much as she previously did in “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018) and “The Old Guard” (2020).
In conclusion, “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers” does not reach to the sublime qualities of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, but it is not a bad animation film at all thanks to director Akiva Schaffer’s competent direction, though I would rather recommend you to watch “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” or that Disney TV animation series instead. In my inconsequential opinion, both of them have a lot more wit and imagination than this rather shallow amalgam of intellectual properties, and, to be frank with you, I really want to revisit either of them right now.