Traditionally, when Disney movies skip theaters and go straight to video, it’s not a good sign. That’s changed a bit now that Disney+’s beast of content needs to be fed, however the company still differentiates between “triple-a TV” like The Mandalorian and “cheap kids’ movies” like the Air Bud series.
So, today’s Disney+ premiere of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, a pg-rated remake with few advance press screenings, had us assuming the worst, despite its comedic pedigree. The Lonely Island (“Lazy Sunday,” “Mother Lover”) is all over the movie credits, but how much of the group’s work on Saturday Night Live could outweigh the family demands of a direct-to-Disney release? +?
I’m here with surprisingly good news. Chip ‘n Dale is a self-aware comedy game that families will appreciate. What’s more, he knows exactly when and how to play video games, cartoons, and pop culture references from the ’80s and ’90s without losing character development and physical comedy.
time for male strippers: just a few minutes (but rated pg, we swear)
The film is Disney’s best-ever hybrid of live-action, CGI, and hand-drawn animation, with lead characters Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) and Dale (voiced by Andy Samberg) each offering different spins on modern animation. Chip combines 3D rendering with a cel-shaded filter, hand-drawn touches, and intentionally narrowed animation speeds in order to look like a living 2D cartoon, complete with tasteful touches of ambient occlusion and light-bounce rendering.
dale, as part of a running gag in the film, underwent “cgi surgery” and emerges as a fully 3d rendered chipmunk. The film begins by zooming in on their disproportionate eyes and other uncanny valley oddities for comedic effect, but this quickly softens, and as the film progresses towards emotional and kid-friendly connections between the chipmunks, Dale finally sees. looks pretty good, with his animated character. , bright eyes standing out.
Mild spoilers ahead, but we’re aware of how easily some of the jokes in this movie get screwed up.
Samberg’s opening narration suggests that the phrase “chip ‘n dale” probably reminds viewers of a few things, and then shows a pg-rated image of male strippers. The movie’s script and visual jokes do a masterful job of making kid-like references or flicker punches and you’ll lose them in the worlds of games and cartoons.
Mulaney and Samberg each double down on the archetypes of their two characters: Chip is brainy and assertive as a leader but also a stick-in-the-mud about pushing boundaries, while Dale favors impulsive and goofy solutions to serious problems, albeit while stomaching some raging insecurities. We get to see each lead character move on from early ’90s fame to their “adult” lives for the next 25 years or so before they’re forced to reunite. Their old castmate Monterrey Jack has crossed the wrong loan shark, and Chip and Dale decide to bury their decades-old feud to do some rescuing and rangering. (One of the plot threads has Mulaney’s Chip opining about Monterrey’s issues, and if you’re familiar with Mulaney’s real-life trials and tribulations, you may darkly chuckle the same way I did during these moments.)