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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Year: 2022
Production Co: Mandeville Films
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer: Dan Gregor | Doug Mand
Cast: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key, JK Simmons, Seth Rogen, Chris Parnell, Charles Fleischer, David Gennant, Paul Rudd, Rawson Marshell Thurber

Ordinarily the last kind of movie I'd be interested in seeing, but what I was looking forward to was the kind of thing I appreciated in The Happytime Murders and one of the things we all loved about Who Framed Roger Rabbit – world building.

Just seeing the trailer, in which Chip (John Mulaney) appears in regular hand-drawn animation while Dale (Andy Samberg) has had a 3D animated upgrade – the toon equivalent of plastic surgery – made me hope it was full of clever satire about not just fame and the entertainment industry but filmmaking technology, inventing a world where it all coexists. Aside from the moral of the story you expect, it delivers the foundation that's amazing to the viewer but everyday to the characters I hoped for.

After becoming friends at school, Chip and Dale grow up together, moving to Hollywood and becoming TV stars because of the hit detective show they headline. But Dale, after always feeling like the comic foil and support act, accepts a show of his own, breaking up the partnership.

They go their own ways, Chip feeling betrayed by his former friend, Dale's show bombing and both their careers moribund. In the present day Chip lives a humdrum but satisfying life selling insurance.

The inciting incident is when they're both summoned to the apartment of one of the former costars they're still on good terms with, Monterey Jack (Eric Bana). In a clever, kid-friendly twist on contemporary Hollywood mythology about actors who've fallen on hard times and owe money to the wrong people because of drugs, Jack is addicted to the smelly cheese that bears his name.

He warns both Chip and Dale that the criminal gang supplying him also kidnap and alter former animated stars and force them to star in dodgy bootleg editions of hit movies (one of the film's funniest motifs). Later, when they both learn he's been kidnapped from his apartment, the pair reluctantly team up to find their friend and crack the case.

They'll come up against Sweet Pete (Will Arnett), the older, grizzled Peter Pan who's gone bad, Police Chief Putty (JK Simmons), and a host of other weird and wonderful characters both human and beyond to help.

There are plenty of comic set pieces and action scenes and Samberg and Mulaney have good chemistry and great banter, and the staging and direction are as good as you expect from a CGI animated cartoon blended with live action.

But if you're not a kid or family friendly audience and this kind of premise isn't usually your bag, it's the nods to pop culture and moviemaking lore coming thick and fast that will keep interested – and laughing.

Two such examples; Ugly Sonic, the rejected original Sonic with his weird human teeth, referencing the flap over the original Sonic the Hedgehog trailer, now making a living as a blowhard former star at conventions. In another scene, Seth Rogen's characters from the Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs Aliens, The Lion King and other franchises all crowd around laughing at some funny sight or other, all of them with Rogen's distinctive guffaw.

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