It’s a nostalgia explosion with cameos ranging from Mighty Mouse to My Little Pony and the power duo of Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat in this meta trailer that takes place where toon actors live alongside humans.
The 1980s was a wild time for animation, punctuated most dramatically and surprisingly by the ahead-of-its-time “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Fans have been clamoring for a reboot for more than 30 years, and their prayers may have just been answered.
What at first looked like yet another reboot, Disney has made it clear that their upcoming “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is not that but rather a comeback. That wording makes a lot more sense after the first trailer dropped on Tuesday revealing a spiritual successor to “Roger,” if not a full-blow sequel.
Just like “Roger Rabbit,” this new Disney+ film takes place in a world where toons are actors who film their shows on elaborate sets. They co-exist with humans in a regular world. In fact, it could very well be the exact same world Roger Rabbit lives in, as he is one of the trailer’s myriad cameos.
Roger appears in an early club sequence alongside Disney’s classic Three Little Pigs from a 1930s “Silly Symphonies” short and the live-action Paula Abdul reuniting with her cartoon counterpart MC Skat Kat from her 1989 video “Opposites Attract.”
Also like “Roger Rabbit,” this new film pulls the curtain back on what it’s like to work as a toon, and the challenges that can come up after your days of super-stardom are over. We see real-life merchandise from when the original “Rescue Rangers” was a part of the blockbuster Disney Afternoon, with a “Behind the Music”-style narration to remind us this was 30 years ago and times have changed.
Checking back in with the “cast,” we discover that Dale — who was inspired by Tom Selleck’s “Magnum, P.I.” — went in for a CGI surgery and now works the nostalgia convention circuit as a former toon star. Here it’s treated like a cosmetic surgery that traditional 2-D animated characters can opt for.
Chip — inspired by Indiana Jones — appears to stay traditional 2-D animation throughout. In the intervening years, he’s settled into a life of relative normalcy as an insurance salesman. The disappearance of a former cast-member reunites the gang for high-stakes adventure through this hybrid Los Angeles.
There’s definitely a heavy meta element to the trailer, with the toons traveling around an interacting with different eras of animation, including the creepy “Uncanny Valley,” which takes a look at the type of CGI that made us all cringe when “The Polar Express” came out. Everything is just a little off, and it’s too much for the chipmunks, too.
It’s too early to tell just how “Roger Rabbit” this spiritual successor is going to go, as we didn’t see any appearances from major toons owned by other companies like the Looney Tunes or any other major Warner Bros. properties, but this was only a two-minute trailer.
One of the things that made “Roger Rabbit” so special was the cooperation between all these major studios to give us moments like Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in dueling pianos and cameos that truly represented the width and breadth of the history of animation.
Since then, studios have been a lot more stingy with their intellectual property, but there were some signs of hope with appearances including “My Little Pony” and what appears to be “Mighty Mouse” and “Felix the Cat” as a plush.
There are also nods to “Ducktales,” “Treasure Planet,” “Aladdin,” “Indiana Jones” and even “Jurassic Park.” So while it is heavily focused on Disney IP, there is at least hope that it could keep the true spirit of “Roger Rabbit” alive and expand to feature some of its competitor’s toons as well.
It’s also unclear how much Roger himself may or may not play a role. As a private investigator he could certainly get involved in the movie’s central mystery. This project could also explain why we all got fired up over Jessica Rabbit getting a redesign (for an attraction) back in September. Could Roger’s sultry wife have a role to play here, too?
“Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers” stars John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as the titular chipmunks. They’re joined by co-stars Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Dennis Haysbert, J.K. Simmons, Chris Parnell, Keegen-Michael Key and more. The film drops exclusively on Disney+ on May 20.