Four years ago, Disney struck gold with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and has since begun developing multiple live-action modernizations of intellectual properties from its animation back catalog (including this year’s Sleeping Beauty revision, Maleficent). The Mouse House also has a treasure trove of 1980s/90s cartoon series just waiting to be plundered, and sure enough it now looks as though the studio has started to rummage through that particular storage box.
THR is reporting that Disney has picked up a pitch for a live-action Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers movie, based on the animated series that premiered back in 1989 and ran for three seasons (with reruns included as part of the famous Disney Afternoon lineup). That show – a surefire nostalgic property for many kids of the ’90s – re-imaginined beloved chipmunk duo Chip and Dale as members of a detective agency that would battle various enemies, ranging from human mad scientists to Mob boss cats.
Disney-based production shingle Mandeville Films/TV (Warm Bodies, Muppets Most Wanted) is backing the venture, which has been envisioned as a live-action/CGI hybrid by commercials director Robert Rugan. Besides currently developing a couple of projects for Warner Bros., Rugan’s previous output includes Alice’s Misadventures in Wonderland – a contemporary re-envisioning of the Alice story – and the popular Looney Tunes inspired short video “Wiley vs Rhodes”, which you can watch below.
Nowadays, live-action takes on nostalgic cartoons are generally lucrative, but they’re a very iffy proposition quality-wise. Part of the problem is that these recent live-action/CGI franchises like Alvin & the Chipmunks and The Smurfs have loaded on adult irony, at the expense of the innocence and irreverence that made previous incarnations so charming; the other problem is that photo-realistic CGI versions of hand-drawn characters from the 20th century tend to turn out, well, awkward (see: CGI Garfield, etc.).
It’s possible that Rugan’s planned Rescue Rangers movie would instead embrace the old-fashioned cartoony adventure of its inspiration, like how the rebooted Muppets movies from producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (who’re also backing Rugan’s project) have retained the property’s traditional humor. That could make the antics of 3D “realistic” portrayals of Rescue Ranger characters – techno-wiz Gadget, cheese-crazed Monterey Jack and plucky fly Zipper – genuinely entertaining for young ones, while being easier to stomach for older moviegoers.
And hey, if Rescue Rangers actually comes to fruition, maybe that’ll encourage Disney to get going on a live-action/CGI moved based on the Gargoyles cartoon from the 1990s. We could get behind that.
We’ll keep you posted on development of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers as more information is made available.