MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, June 10th.
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Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a rodent blast from the past.
Parents who grew up in the ’90s might want to relive some of their own childhood with their kids. The new Chip and Dale movie on Disney Plus is counting on just that.
The film is getting good reviews from critics, but arts and media editor Collin Garbarino says this nostalgia-laden reboot might be better left in the past.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: Thirty years ago, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers
was a staple of The Disney Afternoon when the studio repackaged some of
its old characters into new adventures. Now Disney has repackaged
Chip and Dale again to capitalize on America’s current obsession with
everything from the 80s and 90s.
Dale: But now we’re ready to bring it back. Rescue Rangers 2.0! Starring me. Now in new and improved 3D.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen...
Dale: Oh, wow. You hear that?
Announcer: … are you ready for the star of the day?
Dale: Well, that’s my cue to go. This has been chapter one of Dale’s Tales. If you liked it, please don’t forget to subscribe.
The movie reimagines the original series with a meta twist.
Chip and Dale were actors back in 1990 when they made the original
series. We catch glimpses of them on set, hanging out with the cast and
crew, talking to their agents. But all that’s in the past. Chip and Dale
had a falling out, and the show got canceled. Thirty years later, Dale
desperately tries to revive his acting career. Chip, on the other hand,
makes do at an unfulfilling desk job.
Chip: Life is the worst, which is why you need good insurance. Look, I’m not going to put on the hard sell, but in my experience bad things happen all the time. They happen without warning. Sometimes from the last place you’d expect it, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. So, you have to protect yourself. If you’re prepared for the worst, then the worst isn’t so bad.
But bad things bring these estranged friends back together when one of their pals gets kidnapped by a bootlegging operation.
Monterey Jack: So, they kidnap the bloke, erase his mouth so he can’t scream, then change him around to try to sneak by the copyright laws, and then smuggle him overseas to a black-market studio, where he’ll spend the rest of his life being forced to make terrible bootleg movies.
Chip: Oh, no. That’s awful.
The movie is a seamless merging of animation and live action. Chip appears in a classic hand-drawn 2D style reminiscent of the original series. Dale, who’s trying to stay relevant, underwent a surgery to give him a 3D look. They get help from a live-action police officer, named Ellie, who’s, of course, much larger than the chipmunks.
Ellie: Hey! I’m Ellie Steckler. Uh. I’m a huge fan.
Ellie: I actually became a detective because as a little girl growing up in Albany, I wanted to help people. Just like you guys.
Dale: No way. We are so honored.
The movie is chock full of cameos and Easter eggs. Parents who watch it with their kids will have to explain many of the old-school callbacks in the movie. Kids will be delighted by some cameos that they’ll have to explain to their parents. Disney crammed so many references to different franchises, I can’t even begin to count them. The Disney cartoons show up, but we also get Alvin and the Chipmunks, Sonic, He-Man, My Little Pony, Batman, Fast and Furious—you get the picture. With all the cameos, the toon-related mystery, and the blend of animation and live action, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers feels like a reboot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And, of course, Roger Rabbit gets his own cameo.
Dale: We were living the dream. High on the hog, all night long, dancing the “Roger Rabbit” with Roger Rabbit.
Roger: Boy, what a party.
The movie is rated PG, and it has a light and breezy tone.
But some of the choices felt wrong for a kids’ movie. There are a couple
of references to Chippendale dancers that kids won’t understand, and
underneath the breeziness this movie deals with some pretty heavy stuff.
The bootleg operation abducting and exploiting toons? It sounds an
awful lot like a human trafficking ring. Some viewers will feel the
movie’s lighthearted depiction of this tragic real-world problem
inappropriate. There’s even a toon version of a drug ring that helps
recruit rodent toons for the bootleggers.
Chip: Hi, Mr. Bjornson. Do you have any cheese for sale?
Bjornson: Oh, do I have cheese? [laughs] Let’s see. We’ve got the Muenster, the Gouda, the Brie.
Chip: Do you have any “stinky cheese”?
Bjornson: You cops?
Chip: Nah! No. We just wanna buy some stinky cheese. The stinkier, the better.
Bjornson: Alright. Come on. Get in.
Chip and Dale find themselves in a cheese shop reminiscent of an opium den. Kids probably won’t understand the dark reference, but childish obliviousness doesn’t mean comparing drug addiction to eating cheese was a good idea.
This slick movie relies on style rather than substance. In
the end, the plot feels like a threadbare excuse to give us a dizzying
parade of cameos meant to satisfy our craving for nostalgia.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
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