Review by Sean Boelman
If there is one thing Hollywood can’t get enough of, it is milking once-valuable IPs past their prime in an attempt to cash in on nostalgia and create a new franchise. And despite the efforts of Lonely Island members Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the most corporate nonsense kids movies to come out in a while.
The film follows Chip and Dale decades after their television show (the one that this is a reboot… er… comeback of) has ended and they have drifted apart as they must come back together to solve a mystery involving an old friend. For a movie that so desperately wants to be edgy, it’s disappointingly subdued in its plotting.
Granted, there are a few gags in the film that will leave viewers shocked that the filmmakers got the permission from Disney to include them — not that they aren’t family friendly, but that they are so weird and cynical compared to the type of humor that fills a lot of Disney movies. However, that is where the positive comparisons to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? stop.
This movie desperately wants to live up to its similarly Disney-produced predecessor’s image so much, but it misses the things that made that one work. Yes, it’s chock full of references, and there are a few funny moments, but what is missing here is a compelling mystery. The twist isn’t bad, but it is also nowhere near as fresh as it seems to think it is.
The dynamic works if you have a fondness for the characters of Chip and Dale from your childhood, but the fact of the matter is that it’s shallow and derivative. It feels more like Andy Samberg and John Mulaney playing themselves than them playing their respective characters, and it’s disappointing.
There are some other good voice performances in the cast playing new roles, like J.K. Simmons and Seth Rogen, but the thing that the film is missing is a strong live-action presence. Kiki Layne is the main actress with a live-action role, and while she’s obviously talented, she feels wasted here.
Apart from not really taking advantage of the medium as well as it could have, the visuals of the movie look very good. The way in which the animation was blended into the real world looks fantastic, even if more should have been done with it. It’s a pretty cool mix of 2D animation and 3D animation that works quite well.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was a major disappointment, especially given all of the talent and potential that was involved. It’s sure to have its fair share of fans, but many of those are going to be too blinded by nostalgia to see that this isn’t as smart as it appears.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers streams on Disney+ beginning May 20.