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.

Murderville

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Will Arnett, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden, Phillip Smithey, Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, Ken Jeong.

The hilarious new comedy series “Murderville” offers a spoof of police procedurals with a twist. Each episode, homicide detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) takes on a new trainee partner in the form of a celebrity guest star playing themselves. The catch is, the celebrities haven’t been given a script to let them know what’s going on, forcing them to improvise their way through the scenes, leading up to them choosing which of the episode’s three suspects they think is the killer.

Think of it as “Law & Order” meets “Police Squad” with touches of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and one of those murder mystery party games, as the premise, inspired by the British TV series “Murder in Successville,” serves as an excuse to subject the celebrity guest to humiliating scenarios while distracting them from trying to notice clues.

For instance, the first episode ensnares Conan O’Brien in a situation in which he has to keep eating a sloppy joe even as Arnett keeps pouring hot sauce on it. Another set-up sees former NFL star Marshawn Lynch pretending to be the mirror image of a suspect he looks nothing like because the two-way mirror in the interrogation room is missing.

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There are also running gags that flow through all six of the episodes, giving sharp-eyed viewers plenty to appreciate. Arnett shines as the detective at the center of it all, acting as ringleader to egg on the celebrities while guiding them through each case, not to mention the audience, who can play along at home.

You know you’re dealing with an elevated level of silliness when one of the secondary objectives seems to be trying to make the actor playing the corpse crack up (and a couple of times it almost works). Even the skilled performers guest starring or playing suspects aren’t immune to breaking from time to time, which just contributes to the dumb fun.

Discovery+ Greenlights Two Specials on ‘SmartLess’ Podcast

The Discovery+ subscription streaming service Aug. 16 said it has ordered two 75-minute documentary-style specials following Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett during the North American tour for their hit podcast “SmartLess.”

The untitled docuseries, coming to Discovery+ in 2022, will feature highlights from their celebrity interviews during the tour, as well as exclusive, behind-the-scenes access throughout the six-city tour that takes place in February.

“Jason, Sean and Will are three absolute legends who have accomplished so much in this industry — from comedy to drama, on the stage and to our screens,” said Lisa Holme, Group SVP of content and commercial strategy for Discovery Inc. “As they are now conquering the world of podcasts, we’re excited to show an entirely new side of them in this docuseries, where we will have incredible access to all the behind-the-scenes moments from what is sure to be an insightful and hilarious tour.”

The Discovery+ deal for “SmartLess” was put together by Aleen Keshishian of Lighthouse Management & Media. “SmartLess” is a podcast that connects people from all walks of life to learn about shared experiences. It has been named one of the Best Shows of 2020 by Apple and consistently ranks among the Top 5 Comedy Shows and Top 10 on overall shows on iTunes. As of Aug.  1, new episodes will be released exclusively for one week on Amazon Music and Wondery+ before they are widely available on all other platforms.

“SmartLess” podcast guests have included Vice President Kamala Harris, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Ricky Gervais, Bryan Cranston, Paul McCartney, Tina Fey, Awkwafina, W. Kamau Bell, Stacey Abrams, Billie Eilish and Megan Rapinoe.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Warner;
Animated;
Box Office $105.73 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor.
Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman.

Picking up directly where 2014’s The Lego Movie left off, the sequel finds the Lego characters under siege by the Duplo invaders for five years, eventually forming a post-apocalyptic settlement a la “Mad Max.”

When Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and a handful of other characters are whisked away in the latest invasion to a far-off planet in the “Systar System,” it’s up to Emmet (Chris Pratt) to try to rescue them, with the help of an adventurer named Rex he meets along the way.

Lego Movie 2 follows the same conceit as the first film that the adventures of the Lego characters are the manifestations of the imaginations of the children playing with them, with more puns about how real-world situations can threaten their existence (this time they fear ending up in the “Bin of Storage”). The film once again hints at the toys being alive, and idea it can only take so far before it starts to delve into “Toy Story” territory.

The war with the invaders stems from a sibling rivalry, as the little sister of the kid from the first film wants to play with her brother, only to be rebuffed. So, there’s a nice little message about sibling cooperation at the heart of the story for good measure.

The animation is as stylish and colorful as the first film, the story works in a few more catchy songs (many by YouTube star Jon Lajoie, who played Taco on “The League”), and the franchise continues to make smart and funny observations about its nature as essentially a Lego toy commercial. But after following up the first movie with “Batman” and “Ninjago” Lego spinoffs, the concept is a bit played out.

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The Blu-ray features the movie in an “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along mode that showcases facts about the movie, on-screen lyrics, trivia games and more.

There’s also a full-length commentary from director Mike Mitchell, writers/producers Phil Lord and Chritopher Miller, and animation director Trisha Gum.

Additional behind-the-scenes material includes the 9-minute “They Came in Pieces: Assembling The Lego Movie 2,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The Blu-ray also offers 12 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, including some interesting footage showing parts of the story from the point of view of the kids playing it out.

Just as a reminder that these are toys you can buy at your local store, there’s a two-minute “Lego Sets in Action” video of animations of the new products featured in the movie, and a three-and-a-half-minute featurette that interviews Lego toy designers about the toys created for use in the movie.

The disc also includes four additional minutes of promotional material, including the actors talking about their characters’ minifigs.

On the musical side, there’s a music video for the “Super Cool” song by Beck, featuring Robyn and comedy team The Lonely Island.

Finally, there’s a three-minute Christmas-themed short film called “Emmet’s Holiday Party.”

‘Bojack Horseman’ Seasons One and Two on Blu-ray July 31

Multi-platform media distributor Shout! Factory will release BoJack Horseman: Seasons One & Two on Blu-ray July 31.

The animated Netflix comedy series centers on the title character (voiced by Will Arnett), an anthropomorphized horse who is a troubled former sitcom star struggling through life with whisky and failed relationships. Now, in the presence of his human sidekick Todd (Aaron Paul) and his feline agent and ex-paramour Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), BoJack is primed for his comeback. The series also stars Alison Brie and Paul F. Tompkins.

Bonus features have yet to be announced.

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Fans who order directly from Shout! Factory (www.shoutfactory.com/shop) can purchase a limited collector’s edition that includes a set of six laminated cork-base coasters featuring the lead characters.

‘Bojack Horseman’ Blu-ray with Shout! Factory online-exclusive coaster set