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How ‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ writes a love letter to animation

1 min read

A comeback 30 years in the making, the Disney+ Original movie “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers”—debuting Friday, May 20, exclusively on the streaming service—catches up with former Disney Afternoon television stars Chip (voice of John Mulaney) and Dale (voice of Andy Samberg) in modern-day Los Angeles.

It’s been decades since their hit TV series was canceled, and Chip now works as an insurance salesman, while Dale—who underwent CGI surgery—works the nostalgia convention circuit. Now, after one of their former cast mates disappears, Chip and Dale must repair their broken friendship and resume their Rescue Rangers detective personas to save him… before it’s too late.

Akiva Schaffer directs the hybrid live-action/CG animated action-comedy, and his reasons for doing so were threefold: “First, there was the technical aspect that intrigued me—learning the world of animation,” Schaffer says. “A lot of my friends make animated films, like Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and I’ve always wanted to know how to do that. Second, I grew up with all these characters—especially from Disney Afternoon, which was a big part of my childhood. Third, the script was really funny. It was really inventive and self-aware. On a comedy level, I thought, ‘This is a funny movie that I’d actually want to see.’ It’s one of those the whole family can enjoy.”

KiKi Layne, who stars as rookie detective and “Rescue Rangers” superfan Ellie Whitfield, agrees, adding that “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is “a love letter to the journey of animation. When you think of what cartoons and animated films first looked like and what they look like now, the film definitely speaks to that a lot. I think it’s something that will touch a lot of fans—not just fans of Chip and Dale, but fans of all animation.”

Indeed, from Claymation to 3D animation, “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” has a bit of everything. “I think the way we comment on animation and its changing styles plays into the plot so well and so organically,” Mulaney says. “Those two themes really coexist—the changes in the characters and the animation. It’s a cool, poignant tie-in.”

“Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is chock full of animation cameos, from Scrooge McDuck to Roger Rabbit. “I saw ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ in theaters, and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Schaffer says. “Who would’ve thought that one day I’d be in a recording studio with Charles Fleischer voicing Roger Rabbit?” In crafting his love letter to animation, Shaffer says he sought out “legacy people for voice work, for character work, and for artist work” whenever possible. “That was always my first ask.”

“Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is streaming now, only on Disney+.

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