Roger Rabbit for a New Generation

After years of rumors and reports, the long-awaited Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie will finally arrive this week. The Akiva Schaffer-directed film, based on the Disney Afternoon animated series, focuses on Chip and Dale years after the end of the show. Though both have moved on after a rift in their friendship towards the end of filming for the series, they reunite to save an old friend from peril.

Much like many other animated movies of the day, this one casts celebrities as the voices of the main characters, most notably John Mulaney as Chip and Andy Samberg as Dale. Neither of these two is a bad voice actor, but they certainly don’t sound anything like the characters traditionally do, and for those who grew up with Chip and Dale, it can take one out of the movie a bit.

Getting past that, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is essentially the equivalent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with its mystery plot and setting of a live-action world that’s filled with both real people and animated characters. Rescue Rangers goes a step beyond, however, by incorporating different kinds of animation, and themes on the state of the medium in general, into the story. Various styles and eras of animation are explored (and made fun of), with each serving a key purpose in the plot.

Of course, this leads to a bunch of fun appearances from animated characters over the years that I’d be remiss to spoil. If you thought Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse appearing together in Roger Rabbit was wild, just wait until you see who pops up in Rescue Rangers. Some of the characters the filmmakers got the rights for are legitimately jaw-dropping. But don’t worry, the fun appearances and cameos don’t take away from the core story of Chip and Dale.

One thing that I feel is important to mention is the portrayal of Peter Pan in the movie. As seen in the trailers, it’s the one from Disney’s own Peter Pan animated movie but grown-up. His backstory is strikingly similar to that of Bobby Driscoll, the Disney child actor who voiced Peter in the movie and was tossed from the company soon after. Whether intentional or not (and really, it’s so similar it kind of seems like it has to be), considering Driscoll’s rough life beyond being axed by Disney, this was in extremely poor taste to include. Including a different character and/or a different backstory for this role in the story would have been a better option, and my ultimate score of the movie will be taking this poor decision into account.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers will likely be a fun time for fans of animation, whether they watched the original series or not. There are definitely references, but as someone who didn’t see the show, the movie does a good job of making them accessible to all viewers. As stated above, it’s this generation’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and is sure to elicit much buzz (and memes) when it’s released this Friday, May 20.

SCORE: 7/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Disclosure: Critic received a screening link for our Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers review.