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Flashback to 1988: Classic animation dominated the market, fans of all ages were coming off the high of the Disney Afternoon, and Walt Disney Animation Studios was preparing to enter a golden era of animation with the Disney Renaissance. Fans of all ages reaped the benefits, with clever adaptations springing up on the small screen in ways nobody could have ever dreamed of.
Whether we look at the Indiana Jones-esque inspired adventures of DuckTales, or the high flying hi-jinks that brought Baloo of the pages The Jungle Book for TaleSpin, there were so many incredibly iconic series being created that found a way to keep these beloved Disney characters in the limelight for a new generation.
One of these legendary series of course was Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. The series hit all the right boxes, being a nice mix of the classic detective genre that still held onto the classic Disney charm and antics that you’d expect from an animated short.
It was funny, it was zany, and brought in a fresh take on two of Disney’s most recognizable characters while bringing everyone new favorites like Gadget and Monterey Jack. Disney took the 80s, threw it in a blender, and brought out a product that would stand the test of time. To this Day, Rescue Rangers is still one of the most beloved Disney animated series of all time.
It’s not even a surprise that after all these years, Disney would decide to revisit the series. In a time where nostalgia is dialed up to a dominant overload, and an era where live action remakes, reboot culture, and legacy sequels make us feel like we woke up in the early 90s, this film fits right in with the audience demand. Rescue Rangers was brought back, and the question that Disney Afternoon diehards have to ask themselves is: Is Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers worth it?
To answer that question, we first take a look at the film that this film took inspiration from, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film not only broke the fourth wall, it shattered expectations; and as a result, brought us a world where animation and live action lived side by side, creating a groundbreaking experience that set the example for animators for years to come.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was in the purest sense of the phrase, a love letter to animation of all kinds. All these years later, Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers takes up that mantle, and in essence, breaks down the fourth wall even further, giving fans another glimpse into a world where our favorite animated characters coexist in our crazy reality. The result is a stunning display of remarkable and cutting edge animation that visits all eras of the medium and features a grab bag of fun easter eggs and funny moments worth revisiting beyond the first viewing.
It also holds up a mirror to the vacuum of nostalgia, not being afraid to make fun of the very industry that created it. A perfect example of comparison would be the 90s action classic, Last Action Hero. Like the Schwarzenegger flick, Rescue Rangers plays with the commonly used tropes, gags, and cliches that help define the medium.
All the while, looking back at some of the industry’s not so successful moments and failed ideas, laughing along with us as we explore how truly weird the world of animation really is. So much has changed, and through the good, the bad, and the truly ugly, animation has been through so many iterations. It’s refreshing to get to look at it through this lens, being on the nose just enough to keep you intrigued and giggling versus running for the exit wondering why.
Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers brings the humor, and in some of the weirdest ways, provides us all some reassurance that despite all the truly bizarre things we endure, there is always a little room for the familiar to remind us that it is okay to laugh, start fresh, and enjoy the moment.