Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Comedy;
Rated ‘PG’ for mild action and rude/suggestive humor.
Stars Andy Samberg, John Mulaney, KiKi Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Flula Borg, Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key, Tress MacNeille, Tim Robinson, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, Da’Vone McDonald, Rachel Bloom.

The new Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers isn’t so much a reboot of the 1989-90 cartoon show of the same name as it is a hilarious spoof of the entire animation industry.

A staple of the Disney Afternoon animation block of the late 1980s and early 1990s, “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” repurposed Disney’s mischievous chipmunk duo Chip and Dale as heads of a detective agency that took on animal-based crimes. The pair had been created in 1943 and were featured in 23 animated shorts through 1956, mostly as annoyances to more-prominent Disney characters such as Donald Duck or Pluto.

Produced by the Lonely Island comedy troupe, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers reimagines Chip and Dale as actors who once starred in the “Rescue Rangers” TV show in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit-type world where Toons exist in the live-action world (as do Muppets, puppets and Claymation characters).

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Best friends from high school in the 1980s, the pair have gone their separate ways in the 30 years since the show ended. Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) has become an insurance salesman, while Dale (Andy Samberg) is an internet celebrity cashing in on his fleeting fame by touring fan conventions alongside other washed up cartoon characters (including a rather pointed slam of the botched marketing of a recent movie from another studio). Dale’s also undergone a procedure to give him a CGI upgrade — this world’s equivalent to plastic surgery — while Chip remains his traditional 2D appearance.

The pair are reunited by the pleas of their desperate “Rescue Rangers” co-star Monterey Jack, whose cheese addiction has put him in debt with some unsavory characters. When Monterey disappears, Chip and Dale join forces with a local cop (KiKi Layne) to free him from Sweet Pete (Will Arnett), a disgruntled former child star with a reputation for re-animating Toons in order to force them to star in cheap DVD bootleg ripoffs of their own movies. The premise gives director Akiva Schaffer and screenwriters Dan Gregor and Doug Mand plenty of ammunition to skewer the tropes of animated movies and reboots.

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The film avoids cameos from any of Disney’s major characters, but, like Roger Rabbit, serves up a ton of casual appearances from well-known minor characters, many of which feature in other studios’ properties. The fun blast of nostalgia will instantly appeal to anyone who grew up in the Disney Afternoon era, but also aren’t a distraction from the main story, which mixes in enough generic archetypal characters so that audiences of any age can appreciate the film without needing to understand any additional history of animation.

Coming 2 America

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/8/22;
Paramount;

Comedy;
$14.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;

Rated ‘PG-13’ for crude and sexual content, language and drug content;
Stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Kiki Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha.

The long-anticipated sequel to 1988’s Coming to America is mostly successful in replicating the fun of the original film, if not necessarily the freshness of it.

Picking up more than three decades after the events of the first film, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) of the small African nation of Zamunda is now happily married to Lisa (Shari Headley, also reprising her role from the original), and they have three daughters. However, as King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) reiterates while on his deathbed, that the throne of Zamunda by law can only pass to a male heir. And without a son to secure his legacy, Akeem after his coronation can expect to be swiftly executed by agents working for Gen. Izzi (Wesley Snipes), the dictator of the neighboring country and older brother to the woman Akeem spurned in the first film to marry Lisa. Jaffe’s shaman, however, has a vision of a long-lost son of Akeem living in America, who can become the heir the country needs once Akeem is king.

Soon enough, Jaffe dies, and his funeral sets off a string of fun cameos that pop up throughout the film. This also being technically the third film of the Trading Places cinematic universe, viewers can rest assured that Coming 2 America, like its predecessor, makes appropriate nods to the Duke family from that 1983 comedy.

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For as lighthearted as it wants to be, though, Coming 2 America is almost derailed by an ill-conceived plot development that threatens to completely undercut whatever nostalgic good will carries over from the first film. That comes in the form of a flashback to events of the first film, in which it is revealed that Akeem at one point was inadvertently drugged, leading to an unintended sexual encounter with the woman (Leslie Jones), who would provide his only son. Even where this scene is supposed to have happened doesn’t seem to fit the timeline of the first film, but it does enough to move the plot forward.

So, Akeem and his loyal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) return to New York to retrieve his son. While the film delights in fun callbacks to the original film, it’s not a full rehash of the plot. Once Akeem finds his son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), it doesn’t take much convincing to get him to hop on a private plane back to Zamunda to begin training for his princely duties.

The attention on Lavelle, naturally, stirs tensions between Akeem and his daughters, who in the 21st century see no reason why women should not be able to inherit the throne.

Anyone looking for groundbreaking comedy isn’t likely to find it here. But fans of Coming to America should find plenty to enjoy in this continuation of the story of Zamunda and its zany royal family.

Arriving nearly a year after the film’s debut on Amazon Prime Video, the Blu-ray version includes a fun 25-minute “From Queens to Zamunda” behind-the-scenes featurette that also serves as a retrospective of the original film. There’s also an informative feature-length commentary by director Craig Brewer.

Originally published as a streaming review March 15, 2021.

Hastings: Netflix Girding for ‘Whole New World in November’

With a slew of new subscription streaming video services launching soon, including Apple TV+ and Disney+ in November, and NBC Universal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max early next year, market behemoth Netflix is preparing for battle.

Speaking Sept. 20 at the Royal Television Society confab in Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told attendees the SVOD pioneer has spent $500 million (£400 million) on original content production in the region this year with plans to increase the amount next year.

Over the summer, Netflix leased Pinewood Studios’ Shepperton facility — a move later emulated by Disney for Pinewood’s Buckinghamshire facility near London.

Reed Hastings

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Netflix’s forthcoming comic book-based action movie, The Old Guard, starring Oscar winners Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor and KiKi Layne, among others, was filmed at Shepperton.

“While we’ve been competing with many people in the last decade, it’s a whole new world starting in November,” Hastings said, as first reported by Variety. “It’ll be tough competition. Direct-to-consumer will have a lot of choice.”

Hastings said Netflix was not interested in acquiring production facilities globally, preferring to rent as market conditions dictate.

He said the increased SVOD competition worldwide (Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV+ all have global aspirations), including Amazon Prime Video have upped production costs exponentially.

“Someday ‘The Crown’ will look like a [fiscal] bargain,” he said.

Hastings added that as SVOD and ad-supported streaming proliferate worldwide, traditional pay-TV still dominates consumer viewing habits.

“We win only about 5% of television viewing hours, so we’re nowhere near a concentration risk [to pay-TV],” he said.

Oscar Nominated ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Due on Digital March 12, Disc March 26 From Fox

If Beale Street Could Talk, which has earned Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins), Best Supporting Actress (Regina King) and Best Original Score, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) March 12 and Blu-ray and DVD March 26 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Adapted from James Baldwin’s acclaimed novel, the film is a love story set in early 1970s Harlem. Newly engaged 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) and her fiancé Fonny (Stephan James) have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice.

Special features include deleted scenes, the featurette “If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in Motion” and audio commentary by Jenkins.

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