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Should I Watch..? 'Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers' (2022)

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Film's poster

Film's poster

What's the big deal?

Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers is a part-animated action comedy film released in 2022 and is based on the titular Disney characters and their eponymous TV series from the early Nineties. Directed by Akiva Schaffer, the film is set in a version of Los Angeles where animated characters exist alongside normal, non-animated people and follows the pair who have drifted apart since the show ended. However, when one of their former co-stars is kidnapped, the two of them must put aside their differences in order to save the day. The film stars the vocal talents of John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, supported by Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Dennis Haysbert, Tress MacNeille and KiKi Layne. The film features a host of cameos and nods to various other animated characters as well as numerous pop culture references. Released exclusively on Disney's digital streaming service, the film earned a warm reception from critics who praised the film's technical prowess and compared it favourably with Who Framed Roger Rabbit as well as the humour and inventiveness of the story.


What's it about?

In a world where humans and cartoon characters co-exist, Chip and Dale are two chipmunks who meet in school and quickly become best friends. Growing up together, the two of them later move to Hollywood in order to pursue their dreams of stardom. Eventually, the two of them get their own TV show - Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers - alongside their co-stars Monterey Jack, Gadget and Zipper and the show becomes a big success. On the back of the show, Dale is cast in his own solo show Double-O Dale which causes friction between him and Chip. Before too long, both shows are cancelled and everyone goes their separate ways - Zipper and Gadget get married, Chip becomes an insurance salesman, Dale hits the convention circuit and Jack struggles to overcome his cheese addiction.

Thirty years later and both Chip and Dale (who has since undergone 'CGI surgery' to become a photo-realistic CG character) are contacted separately by Monterey Jack after he runs into trouble with the villainous Valley Gang. Jack owes the gang money and warns them that they operate a 'bootlegging' operation where toons are kidnapped, have their appearance altered and forced overseas to perform in low-budget knock-off productions. That very night, Jack is kidnapped and the chipmunks are contacted by Police Captain Putty (a claymation character) and rookie human officer Ellie Steckler, a huge fan of the Rescue Rangers. Reluctantly, Chip agrees to temporarily reform the Rangers with Dale in order to help their friend, much to Dale's excitement...


What's to like?

As a huge fan of Roger Rabbit, any film combining animation and live-action in this fashion has an enormous pair of shoes to fill. Thankfully, this ambitious effort manages to pull it off. The film works as a family adventure, offering younger viewers plenty of laughs and recognisable characters as well as the exciting prospect of seeing cartoons interact with people and props. For me personally, this is as close to magic as you can witness at the movies - I know most of how it is done but to see the finished product still puts a huge smile on my face. If anything, this is ever more impressive with modern CG characters interacting with traditionally animated counterparts all interacting with the real world. If your child is anything like me when I was younger, they will love it.

Not to say that adults are missing out as the film is awash with in-jokes, sight gags, pop culture nods and references to a variety of animated forms from the earliest Disney shorts to the likes of South Park, the popular polar bear from the Coca Cola Christmas ads, the digitised cast of Cats and even the heavily criticised "ugly Sonic" that appeared in the first trailer for the Sonic The Hedgehog movie. The film also doesn't just have references and cameos for the sake of nerds like me but is able to explain their place in this mixed-up world the film is set in as well as passing commentary on such characters like the constant mocking of the CG dwarf's "cold, dead eyes". This is one of those movies that is self-aware and able to poke fun at its inspirations as well as itself, something which can come off as self-indulgent but actually feels like it comes from a place of love. There is an affection for these characters and shows that shines through the movie and, lets be honest, it strikes a chord with us because we used to love them as well.

The film somehow successfully revives memories of the original TV show as well as present it in a completely different way. Good stuff!

The film somehow successfully revives memories of the original TV show as well as present it in a completely different way. Good stuff!

Fun Facts

  • The pilot show Dale appeared in, Double-O Dale, is actually not far removed from actual plans Disney had for a show in the early Nineties. Double-O Duck was ultimately scrapped when it was discovered that Ian Fleming's estate held the rights to the 'Double-O' title and the project was reworked into Darkwing Duck - who makes a brief cameo in a mid-credits sequence.
  • Seth Rogen has a scene where four of his voice roles interact with each other. When Bob the Viking Dwarf is tripped up at the convention, he sees Pumbaa from The Lion King, B.O.B. from Monsters Vs Aliens and Mantis from Kung Fu Panda.
  • Neither Chip or Dale speak in their trademark high-pitched voices in the film aside from a couple of brief moments. Tress MacNeille reprises her original role of Gadget from the show while Jim Cummings, who was replaced by Eric Bana as the voice of Monterey Jack, does return briefly as the villainous Fat Cat.
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What's not to like?

It's perhaps understandable that the film's core mystery isn't that difficult to work out, presumably because the film is at least partially aimed at children. But by and large, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers doesn't do much wrong. It certainly sags in the middle and the scene with Flula Borg's snake DJ fanboying over the two chipmunks felt unnecessary. I wanted to explore this world a bit more and see it more from a human's point of view - the film is stacked full of toons from all types of media but aside from Layne's enthusiastic cop, there is almost no other human seen on screen besides the odd, brief cameo. I also felt that the film wasn't quite as funny as it thought it was but again, you could point to the film's target audience to blame. I got more of a pop from the numerous references than I did from much of the film's dialogue.

While this isn't so much of a criticism, I felt the film could also have shown more of the original show. The relationship between the Rangers could have benefitted from some expansion and for true fans of the show, we could have seen more from their co-stars Monty, Gadget and Zipper who are essentially relegated to cameo status. But to be honest, you'll be having too much fun to really care about such things. If you're a similar age to myself or the filmmakers then this will be a fantastic trip down memory lane while younger viewers will marvel at the film's technical wizardry on display. Older viewers, I suspect, won't get quite as much from it as I did though.

Director Akiva Schaffer combines a 'Roger Rabbit'-style setting with pop culture, industry satire and plenty of humour.

Director Akiva Schaffer combines a 'Roger Rabbit'-style setting with pop culture, industry satire and plenty of humour.

Should I watch it?

Personally, I find it a little annoying that Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers wasn't given a cinematic release instead of just being dumped on Disney's streaming service. The film is much better than I supposed it would be with plenty of humour and endless references for the adults to spot while bewitching children with its dazzling visuals. It deserves a theatrical release because it is good enough to be seen on a big screen and it would have encouraged families to return to cinemas still struggling to recover from the impact the pandemic had on the industry. As it is, the film is something of a hidden gem - one that will sadly only be enjoyed by those who subscribe. Sometimes, Disney are their own worst enemy...

Great For: fans of the original show, anyone who loved Who Framed Roger Rabbit, family film viewings

Not So Great For: hard-up cinema bosses, anyone unfamiliar with Chip & Dale, CG animators from the early 2000's

What else should I watch?

We appear to living in a new golden age of animation where many studios are pushing boundaries and testing audience expectations in new ways. From the genuinely brilliant Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Soul to the equally pleasing Lego Batman Movie and Encanto, the variety and depth of animation is arguably as good as it's ever been. Unfortunately, this does also mean that some of these films don't quite hit the mark the way they'd intended to - the recent controversy and backlash surrounding Lightyear is a mighty misfire from the House of Mouse while their first streaming-only film, a CG remake of Lady And The Tramp, was greeted largely by a disinterested shrug by people wandering what the point was.

Of course, animation and live-action had been around long before Roger Rabbit smashed the box office open with it. Prior to 1988, it had been seen in films such as Mary Poppins, Pete's Dragon and Bedknobs And Broomsticks as well as Disney's dirty little secret, the problematic Song Of The South. But for me, it will be the sublime combination of wacky Roger Rabbit, Bob Hoskins's excellent portrayal of alcoholic gumshoe Eddie Valliant and the unforgettable figure (literally) of Jessica Rabbit that mark a turning point in my life at the movies. It was the first film I ever saw in a theatre and the whole experience has stayed with me ever since. Luckily, the film is still amazing with both Disney and Looney Toons characters appearing alongside each other and a warming nostalgia for the past when every film had an animated short in front of it.

Main Cast


John Mulaney

Chip (voice)

Andy Samberg

Dale (voice)

KiKi Layne

Ellie Steckler

Will Arnett

Sweet Pete (voice)

Eric Bana

Monterey "Monty" Jack (voice)

Dennis Haysbert

Zipper (voice)

Tress MacNeille

Gadget Hackwrench (voice)

Keegan-Michael Key

Bjornson The Cheesemonger (voice)

Tim Robinson

Ugly Sonic (voice)

Seth Rogen

Bob (voice)

J.K. Simmons

Captain S. Putty (voice)

Technical Info

*based on the show created by Tad Stones & Alan Zaslove, characters created by Bill Justice

DirectorAkiva Schaffer


Dan Gregor & Doug Mand*

Running Time

97 minutes

Release Date (UK)

20th May, 2022


PG / 9+


Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family

© 2022 Benjamin Cox

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