Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers (2022)

I Weep For Cinema May 21, 2022

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve been more confused by a movie in my life. It’s not that I don’t understand the plot of Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but more the fact that I am confused of why it exists, and who the movie is intended for. There is a new genre or type of movie being made in Hollywood over the last several years, and it’s grown in popularity so much so, that it’s reached an oversaturation point. The satirical meta reboot as I have now dubbed it. A movie that takes a well known beloved IP, and turns it into a reboot, that will both bring in the older generation who grew up on it, but geared towards a newer younger generation who’s never heard of it before. Utilizing both the original cast and a set of newcomers either being the offspring of the original cast, or new blood that will take up the mantle and have the original cast pass the torch to them.

We’ve seen it for years in Hollywood, in the mid 2000’s we had movies like Starsky and Hutch, and Bewitched and in the 2010’s we had movies like Robocop (2014) and Evil Dead (2013) that felt more like modernized retellings of the same movie. But Disney has dove into the deep end with these movies, with remaking CGI versions of their animated classics (The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast) and even decent reboots like the animated series of Duck Tales, which started to pull in more and more of the Disney afternoon lineup, having cameos of Darkwing Duck and others show up and bring it all into the same shared universe.

So this new Chip and Dale movie is  bizarre because it immediately starts out in a universe where humans and cartoons share the same dimension. Schools exist where a human child shares a lunch table with a cartoon giraffe and a CGI bear. Cars on the road have multiple sizes, a Toyota Camery shares the road with a sedan the size of a RC car that is specially designed for chipmunks. Not only that, but all the animated cartoon shows and movies are real. Snow White and the seven dwarves are living breathing sentient creatures. And the show Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers is a TV show that wasn’t hand drawn animation, it was a show shot in front of an audience with actors and a crew of gaffers, PA’s, Best Boys and cameras and directors. It’s basically living in a world that is modeled after Roger Rabbit, who actually is briefly given a mention and cameo as well.

So the story starts off with Dale talking about how when he was younger, he had a hard time fitting in at school, because he was such a goofball. No one wants to sit with him at lunch until Chip sits down and they hit it off… cue a musical montage of them becoming life long friends, with the featured music of Tenacious D… because when I think of Disney and children’s movies, I think Tenacious D. Dale continues to reminisce about the past and how he decided to try and go solo in his acting career and proceeds to fail and also get the Rescue Rangers show canceld and cause a rift between him and Chip.

Fast forward to present day where Chip is hanging out in the hasbeen section of the local Comic-Con stand in, where he talks to others like Lumiare from Beauty and the Beast, She-ra and “Ugly Sonic”, the now again real fully breathing and sentient lifeform that was the original design from the 2020 Sonic movie. The one the entire world hated. So he basically is real and exists and is trying to show everyone he’s good enough to be in movies and TV, and is signing autographs, and also references his replacement “Other Sonic” the one with the actual movies.

Without recapping the entire movie beat by beat, let me just talk about some of the most baffling choices with this movie other than what I’ve already stated. The plot starts to become apparent when Chip and Dale go hang out with Monterey Jack and he is kidnapped, The cops come to investigate (one is a human, the other is a clay Gumby like figure) and they surmise that Monty must have been taken by “Sweet Pete” a underground crime syndicate, whose front is a legitimate overseas bootleg movie production studio. Chip and Dale start sleuthing around town and end up in “The Valley” which is shorthand for “The Uncanny Valley” where the residents are all the early 2000’s CGI characters who tried to look real, but ended up being off in just enough of a way to be off putting. They find “Sweet Pete’s” factory, and the security guard is an uncanny valley looking character whose eyes look dead and there is a whole running gag about how he’s not looking at them while talking, because he says he’s looking right at them.

They get the tour from the guard and get taken to “Sweet Pete” (I’m not sure if this is an inside joke like it’s a play on the “Sweet James” attorney or not) But Sweet Pete ends up being middle-aged fat balding Peter Pan. Because he grew up and no one wanted a grown up Peter Pan.  They end up getting threatened, chased, and everything else you’ve seen a million times in these types of movies. At one point, Chip and Dale infiltrate a Russian Bathhouse, and South Park’s Randy Marsh is hanging out with some pigs and a DJ’ing snake makes them do a rap to a remix of the Disney Afternoon theme song (There is a whole running gag about how CGI kids movies keep making the characters rap, and yet they actually make them do it to get out of a situation…. I hate these kinds of jokes. Just because you are saying you are in on the joke doesn’t exclude you from being the same people who are making the bad thing to begin with.)

Blah, Blah Blah, Chip gets captured and Dale is all alone, so he needs to get the help of Gadget and Zipper to help save Monty and now Chip. (Zipper and Gadget are a couple with dozens of fly/mouse hybrid children). They use the Rescue Ranger’s blimp and Dale saves the day and thwarts Sweet Pete who has turned into a hybrid bootleg character thanks to the bootlegging death ray that’s part of the whole bootleg plot. The Rescue Rangers finally show up on screen together for about a minute and the movie ends as they discuss the future and a possible reboot of their old show.

It’s one of the weirdest “Children's movies” I’ve ever seen, because it’s banking on so much nostalgia, and relying so heavily on so many different IPs from other companies, that I honestly think it was just trying to be the new Roger Rabbit for this generation. But that’s already been done several times in the last few years. We got Ready Player One which did it and more with a much better reason for all the characters to be in the same place, as it was all taking place in the internet, or even the new Space Jam that took many different Warner Brothers properties (and then some). Even this movie features Nickelodeon characters like Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob, and others like Rick and Morty, He-Man, My Little Pony and Shrek…. There are just way too many of these “Hey here is something from the past” without any actual substance behind the reference. Again, if it was intended for just older audiences, I can see why, but I don’t think it’s very good. But with it being geared as a kids movie pointed at people who have no clue what Rescue Rangers even is… it makes zero sense other than “hey look at this thing you might know because it’s a meme and kids love memes!!!”.

I just hate this type of movie, it relies way too heavily on other references to hold up on it’s own, and even though there are several genuinely heartfelt moments in this movie, it’s been all done before and much better. When the movie is called “Rescue Rangers” you expect the Rescue Rangers to be in it for the majority of the time, or at least, half. Or at least a third. Not a single minute at the very very end. It’s a Chip and Dale movie about being hasbeens and trying to reboot their careers. It’s been done before and better elsewhere, and The Lonely Island team was not the right fit for this type of movie. I still don’t know why this movie exists, or who it’s for, and I doubt I ever will. I’m ok with that, but I really am done with the satirical meta referential reboot of 80’s and 90’s media that only preys on people’s nostalgia.


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