Chip ‘N Dale: Rescuing Our Sense of Relevance (And No Reboot Required)

Shared Universes, reboots, nostalgia, fan service, and easter eggs galore.

It’s where it’s all at with movie-goers right now.

Disney’s new Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers movie understands this.

But amidst the zany jokes and noise is a story. What kinds of lessons does it hold for those of us who may be searching for a newfound sense of relevance?

Read on, Ranger!

Remind You of a Certain Rabbit Movie? ROGER THAT.

1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an obvious influence on the film’s story and spirit, which is established from the first frame (heck, Roger even has a cameo). A young Chip and Dale are drawn to one another in an elementary school integrated with ‘toons and humans alike.

This universe shows us, via another 90s flashback, to the last day of shooting that the duo’s popular Disney Afternoon television series. Yes, complete with soundstage (See Rabbit, Roger. Above). It proved a difficult life transition for the both.

Fast forward to the present. Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) is selling insurance and dealing with feelings of resentment towards his former partner for in the years following cancellation. Meanwhile, Dale (Andy Samberg) is still chasing a showbiz comeback, even going as far as undergoing “CGI Surgery” in an effort to remain relevant.

Things are shaken up when former cast mate Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) comes to Chip raving of an uncovered plot where ‘toons are being kidnapped and forced to participate in cheap knockoffs of popular cartoons, such as the canine romance “SPAGHETTI DOGS.”

Is there something to Montery’s paranoia or has he experienced a cheese relapse? Will Chip and Dale be drawn into a mystery? Will there be a Rescue Rangers reunion on the horizon? Gee, what do you think?

Ready Players One Inch Tall

Disney owns a lot of creative properties now. And, much like Ready Player One, it’s nostalgia driven with plenty of character cameos and Easter eggs, sometimes packing frames with blink or you may miss it moments. There are well over 150! It’s fun!

It’s a shame the story doesn’t nearly match the creativity of the Easter eggs. Not a lot of surprises here and largely predictable. Those growing up with these characters may find the voices provided by Mulaney and Samberg jarring, but it grows on you, especially the sarcastic chipmunk sass provided by the former.

Other voice work is provided by Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, Will Arnett, Rachel Bloom, Tress MacNeille reprising her role as Gadget, and most unexpectedly, that sweet, sweet bass of Dennis Haysbert in a role that I will leave a mystery.

Searching for Relevancy

It was the mystery that brought Chip and Dale together again, but at the heart of their journey is coming to grips with a mutual search for relevancy. So much of their identity was tied to the show that made them famous. In this case, the cancellation of Rescue Rangers shook both to their core.

Chip’s life was dominated by feelings of resentment and Dale’s was consumed with chasing that feeling of being an A-list (or even a B) celebrity again and visible in the public eye again.

Can you identify with that feeling? Sometimes losing a job or another purpose driven something can leave us blowing in the wind. Such is the danger of having our sense of value and self esteem so closely tethered to vocation.

We’re often preoccupied with finding that dream job or living into a “calling” (not necessarily a bad thing, I’ve written about it here). 

You Are Not Your Job

In an interview with the BBC, Anne Wilson, professor of Psychology at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, cautions, “if you tie your [self worth] to your career, the successes and failures you experience will directly effect your self worth. And because we live in a society where careers are less likely to be lifelong, if we switch or find ourselves out of a job, it can also be an identity crisis.”

Poor coping skills in the aftermath can lead to depression, anxiety and even substance abuse. There’s a fancy word for this tying of identity with, well, anything. Enmeshment.

According to the Grand Rapids Therapy Group, here are some common signs of enmeshment whether in our job, relationships, family or elsewhere:

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  • Emotions become blurred
  • The cost of individuality feels high
  • There is a role for you to fill
  • Your emotional state is other-dependent
  • It is usually up to you to make things better 

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Do you recognize a sign?  What to do? 

Treat your life like you would a financial portfolio.  Diversify!  

Pursue passions outside of work. Take on new hobbies. Volunteer. Try new things. 

We Belong to Each Other

Without spoiling, Chip and Dale came together in the end and experienced some of that familiar chemistry, and in doing so, an important perspective emerged. Their relevancy was ultimately revealed in relation to one another!

ArchBishop Desmond Tutu, in his book, No Future Without Forgiveness, describes a concept called ubuntu which fits neatly into what our pint sized heroes were experiencing here on a (no pun intended) smaller level.

Tutu writes, “𝘜𝘣𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘶 is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘𝘠𝘶, 𝘯 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘶’; ‘Hey, so-and-so has 𝘶𝘣𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘶.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly, caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘𝗠𝘆 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝗶𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀.’ We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘𝗔 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻𝘀.’ It is not, ‘I think therefore I am.’ It says, rather; ‘𝗜 𝗮𝗺 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗜 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴. 𝗜 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗲, 𝗜 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲.’

Don’t you love it when something you are reading dovetails (chipmunktails?) perfectly with something you are watching? Ahhh, providence!

But beware, relationship enmeshment is also quite real.  Healthy, authentic community is what we should strive for, while simultaneously being mindful of not tethering our self worth to another. 

And remember: You are not your job and your job is not you!

Where to Watch

Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers is currently streaming on Disney+.  

What do you think?  Are nostalgia-driven pop culture references and easter eggs a draw for you? What have been some effective coping strategies that have been helpful to you when facing feelings of irrelevance? Share in the comments below!

Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers (2022)

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Screenwriters: Dan Gregor, Doug Mand

Cast: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Kiki Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Seth Rogan, J.K. Simmons, Dennis Haysbert, Keegan Michael Key, Tress MacNeille, Tim Robinson

Rated: PG for mild action and rude/suggestive humor

Running time: 96 minutes

Comments

  1. Shelley

    What a fantastic post! I agree that you should pursue your passion and your self-worth should not be tied to your job. Everyone has more than one good quality, just ask your friends and family members. I find it interesting that I came across this today as I just wrote a post about the benefits of a life coach, one of which is pursuing your passion. Here is the link if you’re interested https://sensiblyshelley.com/how-life-coaches-help-you-lead-a-happy-life/

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  2. Charlie-Elizabeth Nadeau

    Aww this sounds like such a sweet movie. A must see now! I love that they are on a search for mutual relevancy, really it’s something we can all relate to. I think most people are searching for their purpose, I am. And it’s the search that makes life an adventure!

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  3. Shar

    This article took my back to childhood times! Memories are sweet. Anyone can enjoy such a movie and at any age to feel better.

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  4. Meghan

    I’ll definitely have to check this movie out! I loved Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a kid and this sounds like it’d be a nostalgic movoe. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  5. Vi Ho

    I’ll have to check out this movie, especially since we have the Disney + subscription! I especially agree with your comment about “you are not your job”. This is so true, and also one of the reasons why I pursue other side hobbies outside work. It is so important to identify ourselves with something aside from our job. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Unwanted Life

    I wasn’t particularly impressed with this Roger Rabbit knock off, but your post any makes the film better. After losing their job on the original Rescue Rangers show, one of the costars developed and addiction and got themselves into debt. The film touch on a lot of important topics we could learn from, so maybe the film wasn’t as bad as I first thought

  7. Monika

    I wasn’t really planning on watching it, but after reading your post I most definitely will. I was afraid it was going to be a shallow “just make some money” movie with no real story, so thank you for changing my mind! 😊

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