Review – Rescue Me! (“Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers”)

Mixing Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Ralph Breaks The Internet, and Space Jam: A New Legacy, this made-for-Disney+ movie has raised the ire of many Rescue Ranger fans, as it doesn’t feature the original (squeaky) cartoon voices from the treasured long-running 1989 TV series. Oopsie!

What do you do after your TV series ends after 30 years? Why, if you’re 2D animated cartoon icon Chip (voiced by John Mulaney–Tress MacNeille did Chip in the cartoon series), you get a job as an insurance salesman, natch! Dale (Andy Samberg–Corey Burton voiced Dale on the TV series), on the other hand, got “CGI surgery”, looks photo-realistic, and works the Fan Com convention circuit in hopes of reliving his glory days, along with has-beens like Lumière (Jeff Bennett) and Ugly Sonic (Tim Robinson). It seems Chip ‘n’ Dale are no longer on speaking terms due to a solo TV series that Dale was supposed to do, shunning his life-long partner.     

But when former cast member, Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), mysteriously disappears, Chip & Dale reluctantly reunite to try and solve his kidnapping. Working with local stop-motion Gumby-ish police Captain Putty (J.K. Simmons) and his human partner, Det. Ellie Steckle (Kiki Layne), they find that many animated icons are being taken, altered, and then forced to do bootleg animated feature films! Following clues, Chip & Dale go to Main St., a colorful criminal underbelly and, after talking to Muppet Bjornson (Keegan-Michael Key), they are taken to crime lord Sweet Pete, who is a disheveled, old, and twisted Peter Pan (Will Arnett). His henchmen are the Coca-Cola polar bear (De’Vone McDonald) and a badly rendered CGI Viking (Seth Rogan).

Barely escaping his evil clutches, and constantly bickering, Chip & Dale continue to try and find their friend as Sweet Pete wants sweet revenge against the chipmunks that interfered in his operations. Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, who both wrote the epic fails Doolittle and Magic Camp, teamed up again for this screenplay and, well, let’s say they’ve learned from their mistakes. True the plot is about as clichéd and worn out as they come, but the real reason to watch this hilarious made-for-streaming movie are the massive amount of inside jokes, puns, and visual gags that are thrown at the screen with wild and joyous abandonment.

This movie is a rich cornucopia of cartoon and animation who’s who from every franchise imaginable. From the delicious LOL moments at Fan Com to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them-cameos (Stan Marsh, Mr. Natural, Pickle Rick, Batman, Foghorn Leghorn, and about 1000 more), these brilliant and priceless moments are pure gold. I was less interested in the plot and more enthralled in what was happening in the background, foreground, and all the inside jokes that ranged from the obvious to the obscure. I had a smile on my face the entire time as all the visual goodies came fast ‘n’ furious.

The only disconcerting hiccup were the voices. For fans of the original Chip and Dale series, it’s difficult to hear adult men voicing the chipmunks instead of their iconic high-pitched squeaky voices. Yes, it’s established it was their “stage voices”, but the others (Monterey Jack and Gadget Hackwrench) didn’t use alternate voices. It’s like Mickey Mouse suddenly talking like John Cena; it’s jarring and wrong. Other than that, expect Akiva Schaffer’s (The Lego Movie, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) fast-paced direction and unexpected surprises to keep you engaged and laughing. You may have to re-watch this several times to see what you missed the first time!  

**Now streaming exclusively on Disney+

Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

In a gratuitous and shameless self-promotion of themselves and other websites, this flagrant and unapologetic Disney cash-grab movie markets every Disney princess, The Muppets, Star Wars, Marvel, Ebay, etc., while showcasing even MORE online stuff! Egads! This movie should’ve been called Product Placement: the Movie!

Remember Ralph from Wreck-it Ralph? He’s that burly video game character who ‘went turbo’ (left his game) and, not only saved a rascally little girl named Vanellope Von Schweetz from being deleted, but became a better person for it in his escapades. Well, it’s six years later and Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have become bosom buddies. Ah, but there’s trouble when Vanellope’s video arcade steering wheel breaks in two! Uh-oh! Without a replacement wheel for the game console, her machine (and HER) are headed for the scrap heap! Solution? Take a road trip into the internet to find a replacement on Ebay!

Jumping onto a WiFi signal, the two are zapped into the chaotic and colorful dimension of the world wide web, complete with every conceivable website you can think of. . . although Facebook is conspicuously missing. Huh. Naturally, not quite knowing how Ebay works, they outbid another online human for the McGuffin. . . I mean, the steering wheel and win it, but for a staggering $27,001! Uh-oh! So where can they get that kind of cash fast? Spam, of course!

Getting some help from a Mr. Spamley (Bill Hader), they try to make some click-bait money by stealing a car from the online game, Slaughter Race, but they get trounced by their leader, the very hot and wicked-cool driver, Shank (Gal Gadot). Needless to say, Vanellope is star-struck with Shank and the no-holds-barred dangerous aspect of the game. Ralph sees another way to earn the money, and that’s Buzzfeed! Humans click on him doing idiotic things on video vines so he can make some serious cash, but first Vanellope must navigate through the best part of the movie: she visits the Oh My Disney! pavilion and meets all 14 Disney princesses!

This part really should have been expanded beyond its short cameo with Vanellope all the girls, because it’s riotous, irreverent, and leaves you begging for more. I seriously wanted SO much more, I didn’t care about the rest of the movie! Setting up your standard “second act break-up to a third act reconciliation” trope, Ralph gets jealous that Vanellope may leave him for another game and decides to sabotage Slaughter Race with a virus. Yes, it all gets very heavy-handed and soap-opery in the end, with heaping helpings of ‘adult’ creeping into this otherwise kiddie-friendly movie. 

The screenplay by director Phil Johnston (Wreck-it Ralph) and Pamela Ribon (Smurfs: The Lost Village) has a lot of heart to it, but perhaps a little too much heart. While the humor is aimed at the kiddies, the content is heavily laden with adult themes, more so than the first film, which was mostly all fun & games. The kids in the audience laughed at all the goofiness, but it preached a heavy “message” towards the end with a hammer. Then there was the obvious lengthy storyline problem which seemed forced at times, especially in act two. It was almost like two stories were in competition with each other.

The direction by Johnson and Rich Moore tried to move the action quickly, but the sluggish side stories bogged down the action and could have been trimmed (or dropped completely) with some editing. All in all, this sequel does have its moments and I found myself LOL at many of the crazy antics: the Disney Princesses, Vanellope breaking into song, and the whole Slaughter Race world which was worthy of its own film.

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