Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Chip and Dale are two animated friends who haven’t spoken to each other in years after their show was cancelled. When a former cast mate gets kidnapped they have to reunite to save him.

Oh boy, a live-action Disney remake of a beloved cartoon, premiered on Disney+, AND it’s full of cameos from other animated shows? Wow, this is going to suck. I mean, the last few things I watched which premiered on Disney+ were Artemis Fowl and Home Sweet Home Alone, and the last few films I watched where it was mainly about the cameos were Ralph Breaks The Internet and the new Space Jam. Added to that, I don’t think I ever watched Rescue Rangers growing up, so I’m not going to have a warm nostalgia towards it. So I’ll admit, I went in with a somewhat negative mindset, so it would take something special to overcome my preconceptions.

This is something special. I knew it would take something good to win me over, it won me over in the opening scene with this piece of dialogue:

“What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say Chip N Dale? I’m willing to bet it’s Thomas Chippendale, the london cabinet maker. I bet the second thing is these guys *shows the chippendale dancers*

The plot is pretty impressive too. The two characters were actors in the original series, and one of them now wants a reboot. It’s very meta, but really that’s just the backdrop for the main story: someone kidnapping animated characters, alter their appearance slightly with drugs, then ship them overseas to star in bootleg movies for the rest of their life. It’s really dark, kind of reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (who cameos in this). It also brings to mind The Lego Movie in terms of style of humour. It’s cynical, but in a weirdly optimistic way. It’s also full of references which you’ll love, so many unexpected characters and moments make it a real joy to watch.

That is possibly a downside too though. If you’re a 5-year old child, are you going to understand who a lot of these characters are? The film does a pretty good job on catching you up on who Chip N Dale are, but some of the other cameos are so in your face that if you don’t know them it may feel like you’re missing out.

The quality of the film is helped by the cast. Andy Samberg is quickly becoming a really dependable performer for comedic films, and he’s helped by John Mulaney’s more dour delivery. It’s also nice to hear Rachel Bloom in a large movie, albeit only briefly. There are not many live action performers, but of those who are there, KiKi Layne more than holds her own in what must be a difficult role (acting in a similar role drove Bob Hoskins nuts, and that’s a man who survived Super Mario intact). It never feels like she’s acting on her own, you always get the feeling she’s interacting with the animated characters. It’s a very natural performance and her characters enthusiasm for the franchise shines through in her performance.

So in summary, as much as I would have been expected to slate this, it’s really good and if you have disney+ you should definitely watch it soon. The hype train for this is coming, and you want to get on their early.

Palm Springs (2020)

I went into this pretty blind. I knew it existed, I knew Andy Samberg was in it, and I knew the poster. The first minute or so were pretty much as I expected: he wakes up and has sex (attempts to) with his partner the morning of a wedding.

Then it gets weird. He seems a little too bored, a little too like he knows exactly what is going to happen at all times. There’s a reason for that, he’s in a Groundhog Day situation and has lived this day multiple times. The good thing about this is the film drops just enough hints that if you’re paying attention you can figure it out before it’s revealed. Before the reveal it is kind of a standard romcom, and then he gets shot by someone who hates him because he caused him to go through the loop too.

So yeah, the opening section sets in stone the notion that this is not a typical romcom. It has far more jokes about suicide than the typical romcom (well, the typical romcom not written by me, at least). It also has a much darker undertone than it appears. He brings up how he behaves knowing nothing has consequences, bringing up the fact that it doesn’t matter if other people don’t remember, you do. So if you do something awful, you will be haunted by it. As he says

“Being a source of terror is not fun and it’s not fulfilling, I know from experience”

That one line gives us so much potential backstory to that character. It hints that he went through a stage where he killed people, where he viciously tortured those who annoyed him (and considering he knows his girlfriend is cheating on him, that gives us some VERY dark possibilities). I love that it hints at that backstory, but never shows us. It gives us the impression that the characters have lives outside of this film, these characters and this world seem real (except the random dinosaurs).

This film does so much right, the performances are all spot on, and overloaded with unsaid character motivations and beliefs. Everybody is on top form, it doesn’t have as many comedian cameos as you think it would. Truth be told I only remember recognising three of the cast members, but even the “unknowns” do their job incredibly well, all meshing together to form a cohesive unit. I firmly believe this may be one of the best ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, not a single weak link.

Now the downsides: visually it doesn’t really do much. There is some impressive stunt work in it, but the location itself never feels as paradisiacal as you feel it could. I don’t know whether it’s set design, or directing, but the location itself doesn’t “pop” as much as you feel it should. Also I feel the music could be better, I can’t remember a single song from this film, and considering it’s a summer-based horror-comedy that’s a disappointment. Also some of the montages aren’t quite fun enough. There are some moments where they’re genuinely sweet and funny, but then there are others where they just feel kind of standard. Overall though, well worth a watch. If you have a hulu account (or have a friend with one), it’s on there so you should definitely check it out on there.