Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers Review: Now That’s a Reboot

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers kicks off in 1982. Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) are still just a couple of young weirdos who meet by chance in their school’s cafeteria. They may not be cool, but they’ve both got moxie, and they bond over their mutual love of showbusiness.

After graduating high school, the duo moves to Hollywood where they struggle to catch a break. They get by landing bit parts in series like Full House (yes, that Full House), before striking it big with their hit show Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers.

Chip and Dale are on top of the world for a while, but all good things come to an end. The duo breakup after Dale goes solo, ruining their commercial appeal and, ultimately, their friendship.

Flash-forward to present day, and the chipmunks have fallen out of the limelight. Chip sells insurance. And Dale is a Hollywood has-been, holding on to past glory. Dale gets by attending conventions with other washed-up cartoons like Ugly Sonic – the original CGI version of Sonic the Hedgehog, who appeared in the film’s first trailer before his Babadook-like features caused fan backlash.



Chip and Dale are forced back together when an old Rescue Rangers castmate goes missing. He’s fallen prey to a sinister trafficking ring that ships toons overseas to star in bootleg movies (probably directed by Uwe Boll). The TV show sleuths join forces with Ellie (KiKi Layne), an actual cop, to track down their old friend before his case goes cold.

I was a Rescue Rangers diehard as a kid and even I wasn’t asking for a follow-up. But after hearing about the film’s cast, and premise I was all on board.

Rescue Rangers is an inventive reboot that takes the series in a bold new direction. It leaves behind the afternoon kids’ show premise for a hardboiled (albeit PG) detective story set in the real world. Think Chinatown meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Chip and Dale have new voices, deeper emotional depths, and modern-day struggles. Knowledge of the show helps some of the jokes land, but it’s not required to keep up with the story.

I love the way Rescue Rangers blows up our expectations of what a Disney reboot can be. But this film had my attention the minute I saw the cast on IMDb.


Let’s send out a chef’s kiss to whoever cast John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as Chip and Dale. If there were ever two sets of pipes handed down by god to voice cartoons, they belong to Mulaney and Samberg. Honestly, if these guys took an test, I guarantee their results come back 15% Muppet.


The duo slips into the titular roles with ease and delivers star performances that imbue their characters with hilarity and heart in equal measure. Rescue Rangers features plenty of over-the-top sight gags, but it’s really a story about two loners finding their place in the world.

Dale chases after fame because he’s running from himself. Like so many attention seekers, he’s insecure and desperate for validation. And Chip? Well, he loves too hard. His heart is so big that he would rather close himself off from the world than suffer through rejection. And that’s a vicious cycle for someone in a career that depends on public validation.

Rescue Rangers works like gangbusters when it embraces cartoon hijincks and when it slows down for heavier emotional beats.


This movie exists to take the piss out of Hollywood reboot culture. Dan Gregor and Doug Mand’s script knows exactly what it is and makes plenty of jokes at its own expense. Director Akiva Schaffer jampacks the film with meta-commentary, pop culture references, and priceless sight gags.

Schaffer is the perfect director for a self-aware take on the Hollywood machine. It’s a worthy follow-up to his acerbic take on the music industry, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. (The title tells you all you need to know). Rescue Rangers even taps into some of the world-class lunacy Schaffer perfected alongside Tim Robinson on TV’s funniest show, I Think You Should Leave.


I lost track of all the nods, winks, and cameos in the film, and I won’t spoil them here. Just know that the Ugly Sonic gag (voiced by Tim Robinson) is worth the price of admission.

Hollywood loves capitalizing on IP. So the tsunami of adaptations, sequels, and remakes won’t slow down anytime soon. I won’t argue that sequels and reboots aren’t low-hanging fruit for creatively bankrupt studios. But films like Rescue Rangers, The Lego Movie, and even The Matrix Resurrections prove IP-driven titles aren’t an inherent scourge.


When approached with passion, ingenuity, and a sincere love for the source material, adaptations offer a rare type of cinematic pleasure. They remind us why these characters and stories captured our imaginations while inspiring us to fall in love with them all over again.