Chip n Dale

At first appearance, a live-action-animation hybrid film based on the late 1980s cartoon Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers, which was released on Disney+, appeared to be more of the same. Unexpectedly crisp and precise humor is hidden beneath the Trojan horse of a lazily predictable kids’ adventure. 

It’s hardly surprising that someone was prepared to mock Hollywood’s increasingly aggressive remake, rebooting, and recreating of dust-caked IP, but it’s maybe even more surprising that the joke came from within the house. Not just any home, but the House of Mouse, possibly the worst offender of them all.

Chip n Dale, the original series, which aired on the Disney Channel for three seasons, was based on one of those bizarre fever-dream scenarios that youngsters accepted without doubt. With two mice – one Australian, cheese-obsessed, and one blond, the focus of several crushes – and a housefly, two semi-clothed chipmunks ran a detective business. 

Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers Is Quite Entertaining

Despite the large ensemble of comedians and comedic performers (including Seth Rogen, Tim Robinson, Keegan Michael-Key, and Will Arnett), the script falls short of being as humorous as it might be. It’s more likely to elicit “oh yes, that’s smart” grins than actual laughing, owing to the Disney+-ness of it all.

The Chip n Dale world-building is the most surprising aspect of a picture that is mainly surprising. Lonely Island director Akiva Schaffer and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand put significantly more care and work into the details of one scene than most mainstream filmmakers would put into an entire film. It’s crammed to the gills with pop-culture allusions, sight gags, and subtle digs at the business, but it comes short of the brain-dead saturation that’s sunk some of its peers. The knowing humor never falls into self-referential smugness, thanks to a fair dosage of both sincerity and true enthusiasm for the original material, which Gregor and Mand achieve.