Reboots just suck. It is hard to see them as anything but a cash grab even at their strongest. That isn’t to say some have not been entertaining, but very few of them leave you with anything but forced nostalgia and an empty promise of being on par with the originals. This is not an attitude based on the juvenile behavior of “they ruined my childhood” no that is just some guy with a blog screaming from his mother’s basement. The fair and actual criticism of reboots seems to be originated from the respectful notion that many audiences know when they are being belittled. Sure, some accept it and just see it for entertainment value while others fear the major repercussions to an industry already in trouble. Neither groups are better than the other, but their existence should be made aware of. So how is it that with all this the one studio that somehow managed to pull of the most self-aware and worthy reboot came from the biggest studio that is also the biggest threat to originality? Well maybe it is because Disney with their reboot of Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers saw the opportunity to finally correct many of their wrongs, or maybe they are too blind to the criticism and just wanted to get another franchise going. We may never know the answer, but one thing is for sure; they knocked it out of the damn park. Chip N’ Dale is not just a reboot it is a culmination of everything wrong with reboots spun on its animated head and given the polite mockery it so deserves. Sometimes you really do just need to laugh at yourself, and in Disney’s case how much could it really hurt? Every laugh at their expense is still another dollar in the Mouse’s monopoly of a wallet. But when they decide to hire the mega creative team of The Lonely Island (Aka Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg) a team that has little commitment to Disney elsewhere you are opening up the doors to an exciting revamp of beloved characters seen through the eyes that grew up watching and loving, and yes sometimes when you love something you thankfully can see the faults in it too.
There has never been a film quite like 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Robert Zemecki’s bold reimagining of a 1940’s Hollywood that sees humans and Saturday cartoon characters living amongst each other. It was a landmark for film, animation and most certainly big studio’s ability to create two hours of product placement while still being entertaining as hell. It has been 34 years, but Roger Rabbit finally has a younger sibling. Chip N’ Dale practically lives in the same universe, a quick segment featuring Roger himself practically confirms this. This time we see the success of the 1988 show Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers through the eyes of the little creatures themselves. With Dale narrating (Andy Samberg) we not only get the first moment where he met Chip (John Mulaney) but also finally the answer to our most burning question; why did Rescue Rangers end? From there we jump to the present where both Dale and Chip have become estranged from one another, Chip works as an insurance salesman while Dale with his new CGI upgrade (he got the surgery) is still attending Fancons in hopes of keeping his fame alive and a possible reunion. Much like The Lonely Island’s film Popstar, Chip N’ Dale is an examination of male friendship that only goes sour because of self-destruction. To make matters worse when both Dale and Chip discover that their old friend Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) has gone missing it leads them to a conspiracy that goes above their furry little heads. Thankfully for us it also forces them back together and the dynamic duo must find a way to patch old wounds and in Dale’s words reboot, even if nobody asked for it…as Chip says.
It would be unfair to say who and what Chip and Dale encounter next. However, unlike some sour Marvel films this is not a cameo driven film, but rather one that has already established the world it is built in so it is less for shock value and more within the story’s rights to throw us as many animated characters as they can get. And boy did Disney find a way to get them all. One of the biggest laughs from the film is not so much who they get, but you constantly asking yourself “how were they even allowed to use these characters?” Sure anyone probably wants to be featured in a popular Disney movie it helps with marketing, but when you start to see some cartoons from more adult driven shows you can’t help but laugh in awe. Thankfully the film does not just rely on a “I know that thing from that movie” but it uses some of Disney’s most known properties to remind both themselves and the audience that they are far from perfect. When it is revealed that a beloved character has in fact taken a darker path it actually reflects on the ways Disney themselves have abandoned those from the past in favor of gathering as much IP as they can. It is a storyline that may go over some younger viewers’ heads, in fact if you didn’t grow up with some of these 90’s characters many things won’t play out as well. This is not necessarily a negative thing in actuality it is sort of appreciated since there are so many who still hold on to these characters and have also felt abandoned.
Chip N’ Dale follows a familiar path at times, and it even leaves the door open for a return, ironic enough, but if the future of Disney will always be looking back and restoring what is old then these two leave open a better path. One that knows many have moved on, but there is still a longing for the little ones to keep going strong reminding us why we fell in love with them in the first place.
CHIP N’ DALE RESCUE RANGERS is now streaming on Disney+