So last year it was reported Disney had green lighted development for a Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers feature film, presumed to be a mix of CGI with live action and focusing on the Rangers’ origins. I’m not sure if MGM’s decision to develop a new “Mrs. Frisby And The Rats of NIMH” adaption- which also plans to mix live actors with digitized rodents- had anything to do with this, but it’s fun to speculate now and then. (At worst, it can’t be any more of a train wreck than Timmy To The Rescue. Not even the great Eric Idle could salvage that disaster.)
I think Of Mice And Mayhem, a renowned fan comic written and drawn by Chris Fischer, could actually serve as the basis for a great Rescue Ranger movie. The story is an interesting mix of Jason Bourne and 007 style espionage with the whimsy of the Redwall novels, and here the pint sized powerhouses are forced to deal with a threat on a global scale.
After mouse wunderkind Gadget Hackwrench is captured during a botched laboratory raid, the other Rangers (now including popular supporting characters Tammy as the team medic, Foxglove as the resident psychic and eventually Sparky as a second mechanic) search for her, but after browsing through Professor Nimnul’s files, all evidence points to the worst case scenario.
As they try their best to gather their emotions and move on, another raid reveals not only what really happened to the young mouse inventor, but also her involvement in the conspiracy and just what it entails. All of the secrets they uncover wind up being critical to saving both Gadget and the world.
Mayhem is as intense as it advertises itself and it definitely ups the stakes for the Rangers, but it never quite falls into “grim dark” territory. The plot, while it is a fairly hard spy yarn that doesn’t talk down to the audience, is still weird enough for a group of talking chipmunks to handle, not to mention there’s a good deal of humor. For what it’s worth, a lot of the comedy comes from Dale and Monterey Jack, while Chip generally carries the dramatic meat of the story, though there are some exceptions.
Most the action and drama- save for one brief moment towards the end that I think might shock a few kids- is pretty PG, on the same level as what you’d see in The Incredibles or Big Hero 6. There’s some romantic chatter that skews heavily towards certain pairings (Chip with Gadget, Dale with Foxglove), but for the most part it’s kept to the side and the focus is on the adventure.
Fischer has a very fluid and expressive art style that gives the characters a lot of emotional range without deviating too far from a Disney look. Sometimes his humans look a little weird but they’re not too distracting, and Chip gets some pretty heartbreaking expressions during the sadder scenes. There’s touches of manga blended with squashing and stretching, and it lends itself to some fun action, funny gags and moving dramatic moments.
I’m not going to call Of Mice and Mayhem the greatest fanfic I’ve ever read, but it works as a nice little love letter to Chip and Dale. Maybe the movie will be good or maybe it’ll be garbage (probably garbage), but I wouldn’t mind buying a ticket to see this animated. I’d recommend it for any long time Rescue Ranger fan or anybody who feels like a decent spy adventure. The site’s in Russian, but you can find a mostly complete translation of it here.