PG. If I had to list what was offensive about this movie, it would be absurd. It's cartoon characters from the '90s in an ironic reboot. But for the adults, there's some slightly off-color jokes. For example, Monterey Jack's cheese addiction is definitely implied to be a drug addiction. There are also occasional jokes to the fact that "Chip n' Dale" is meant to sound like "Chippendale", which the film associates with the erotic dancers. Still, PG!
DIRECTOR: Akiva Schaffer
Oh you guys. You guys. Do you know how excited I was when this first trailer debuted? Like, I was too excited. Besides being a full-on Rescue Rangers nut (Like my obsessive personality now, there were definitely hints of it back then), seeing that this was going to be a send-up of the Rescue Rangers by the Lonely Island guys was positively brilliant. But there is the question that I have to criticize myself for: When is nostalgia appropriate?
I keep jumping back to The Lego Movie for nostalgia done right. The Lego Movie, for my first (and probably only) time readers, was this revelation that a corporation could make an unabashedly corporate movie that was somehow good. I had always written off these films, often citing movies like CastAway as films that not only shouldn't be made, but actually ruined cinema. But then The Lego Movie came out and I realized that, if corporations didn't take themselves too seriously, these movies actually ended up being charming. I suppose a lot of this actually should fall on the shoulders of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but the message of that film wasn't exactly taken perfectly. I think a lot of studios saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and thought that animation + live action still had some legs after Mr. Limpet. But Chip 'n Dale (it is odd that I'm writing about two movies that use 'n as an abbreviation this week despite never having done so before) understands, like The Lego Movie, that corporate films need to be able to laugh at themselves. They need to be honest criticisms of their material. In the case of both these movies, these stories tend to be a little more absurd than not. But that kind of dig at their source material is perfect. While these films aren't saying that Lego or Chip 'n Dale aren't great, they also are aware that the source material isn't perfect.
I will say that Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is more of a baseball bat to the knees than The Lego Movie, if that's saying something. I mean, this movie really rips into Disney pretty hard. I just found out this morning that the whole Sweet Pete thing is bordering in offensive humor that I didn't really realize. I was wondering why Sweet Pete would be the villain of the Chip 'n Dale movie. Then I was just told the story of Bobby Driscoll and I'm amazed that Disney greenlit this film. I mean, it wasn't in theaters. Maybe that was something that corporate tried to put a lid on. But Bobby Driscoll was the voice of the OG Peter Pan from Disney. He seemed to be in the Disney stock for a lot of the films that appealed to kids. But when he aged out of the roles he wanted, he basically died unnoticed. I think he might be buried in an unmarked grave because his life ended up so tragic. So when this film, which is sending up a lot of the Disney stuff comes out, I am floored that one of the darker stories ended up being this key plot point of a silly film. Now, I know that a lot of people are mad at the movie for making light about the tragedy of Bobby Driscoll, but I can't help but think that this isn't so much an attack on Driscoll as much as it is a criticism of Disney for failing to take care of its own. Perhaps it might be a little bit in poor taste to make this character humorous and technically the villain of the piece, but it also makes him incredibly sympathetic. I also like the idea that the film wasn't going to pull any punches about this time in history. I kind of love that these guys decided to bite the hand that feeds them.
But if I had to have a bit of criticism about the movie --which is my responsibility to turn inwards --is it really a Rescue Rangers movie? I mean, they say that name a lot. The movie surrounds the eponymous characters and the crux of their relationship is based upon the cancelling of the show. But really, this is a send-up of Hollywood and animation. When DuckTales came back as a less than reverent (or MORE than reverent) send up of the original show, it still was fundamentally DuckTales. This really didn't have to be Rescue Rangers to tell this story. Honestly, this movie could have been TaleSpin with the same plot line. I don't mind because the movie is fantastic and the casting is inspired. But when I mention that this is Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it kind of is. This actually works better as a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? sequel than it does as a Rescue Rangers story.
But at the end of the day, this movie is just funny. I have such a hard time explaining why I love a movie so much. Maybe part of me really wants to love the movie more than I do. But I ended up watching it partially twice in a weekend because it was such an entertaining experience. There's something about irony and just establishing a tone that reflects in the entire work that is insane. Part of me is also just amazed that this movie could possibly exist and not get a theatrical release. I mean, the rights alone in this movie are beyond understanding. When people talk Roger Rabbit, that's the insane thing. This could also be true about Wreck-It Ralph. But Wreck-It Ralph was a major studio release. Someone did a lot of work to just get a Disney+ release? Now, I don't want to play the value of streaming services. But it's not like Disney+ was super hyping up this movie before releasing it. It really feels like this movie was buried and it is an achievement. Even from a technical perspective, this movie shouldn't actually exist. Yet, here it is. On Disney+. Without ceremony. I don't know how to take it. But it doesn't change the way I feel about the movie. It is absolutely brilliant and I can see watching it a dozen more times.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.