After their show is cancelled due to backstage drama, Chip (voice of John Mulaney) and Dale (voice of Andy Samberg) have moved on with their lives - well, one of them has. Chip is now an insurance salesman while Dale has gotten 3D surgery and is attending fan conventions, hoping for a reboot of the series. However, when their old friend Monterey Jack (voice of Eric Bana) is kidnapped by a criminal gang, the Rescue Rangers enlist the help of Detective Ellie (Kiki Layne) to find their missing friend...
'Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers' exists in the brain-space of thirtysomething millennials for one reason, and one reason only. The theme song. Much like 'DuckTales' or 'The Mysterious Cities of Gold', there's a good chance you still know some of the lyrics and have probably spent an idle hour on YouTube glancing over the videos while you're supposed to be doing something. Trafficking in nostalgia is always a dangerous business, but it's something Disney has always done well - albeit this time it surprisingly hasn't worked.
Trying to create a more knowing, winking style of comedy along the lines of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?', this live-action / animation hybrid fails on two main pillars - it's not really funny, and the source material was never up to much to begin with. Chip and Dale's look was famously copied from Indiana Jones and Magnum PI, after all, so originality was never going to be the order of the day here. Doing their best to enliven a pretty dull script and a tired retread of the aforementioned 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?', John Mulaney and Andy Samberg's high-strung, rapid-fire voices try to turn the whole thing into a crime procedural with comedic flourishes. It should have worked, as Samberg's most successful venture to date outside of comedy-music group The Lonely Island has been 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine', a crime procedural with comedic flourishes.
Instead, what the movie does is work in endless amounts of meta-jokes and self-aware gags that ultimately becomes far too smug for its own good. There are jokes about that weird animation style in the late 2010s with a whole sequence set in a place called the Uncanny Valley. There are jokes about foreign knock-offs of animated characters, which is pretty rich coming from Disney who is responsible for lobbying for the Copyright Term Extension Act, otherwise known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, in the US. There are jokes about less successful animated characters and franchises - one, in particular, seems flat-out mean spirited.
Through all this, you're left to question exactly who this movie is for. If it's for elder millennials who remember 'Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers' fondly, this doesn't scratch the itch. It doesn't even have the theme music played in full, only in little spurts here and there. If it's for the children of elder millennials, there's a good chance most of the humour will soar right over their heads. Simply put, 'Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers' slips through the cracks and doesn't pick up the slack.