Recommendations: Chip ‘n Dale and Floppy Knights

Chipmunks square off with lights flashing on the walls in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gay for Disney Enterprises

Check this space each week to find out what our writers have been into lately. Everyone around here has good taste. This week, Lor recommends Floppy Knights and Hawk recommends Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers.

Gaming Recommendation — Floppy Knights

Lor Gislason: I was delighted when Rose City games (publisher of Garden Story) reached out to me with a key for their newest game, Floppy Knights. You play as Phoebe, a young inventor, and her Robot Arm/best friend Carlton as they complete odd jobs and go on adventures. Using a deck of cards (the titular Floppy Knights) you go toe-to-toe with baddies in turn-based battles. In the game you’ll start with a commander (losing them is an instant loss) who comes with their own set of special cards. Other critters, special abilities, and buffs can be played as long as you have enough energy. Cards with “flip” abilities are another mechanic, which can turn the tide of battle. Sow/Reap, for example, lets you move, then attack once flipped. The card remains in your hand. Have enough energy and the process can be repeated!

The game is extremely easy to pick up and has a steady difficulty progression. Each mission has a main goal and bonus objective for some extra cash. You can then use that money to craft new cards. There are no restrictions (besides a 30-card limit), so you could fill your deck for fast and brutal battles or long-haul healers. With three decks (the latter two unlocked as you progress), you can try different strategies easily. There are also challenge missions that’ll test your skills if you need a break from the main story. The art is hand-drawn by Marlowe Dobbe of Dicey Dungeons fame (another great indie gem!), with soft colours and adorable monsters. It doesn’t skimp on the music either, with groovy tunes that suit the visuals. The UI is simple and effective, with card effects explained when hovered over. Floppy Knights has a high level of polish and makes a wonderful addition to the deck-building genre.

Animated characters on the cover of Floppy Knights

Floppy Knights is available on Steam and Xbox Game Pass.

Film Recommendation — Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Hawk Ripjaw: Imagine logging onto Disney+ and loading up Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (rated PG) and, within seconds, seeing a reference to the Chippendales striptease group. You continue watching, possibly with your young child, and observe that the plot of this new Disney movie occasionally features veiled references to trafficking and drug addiction. Of course, your kid won’t pick up on any of that, but the fact that Disney actually let this thing get made is kind of amazing. This is a crime movie in the skin of a sanitized, fun, silly caper, and it is absolutely terrific.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers comes screaming out of the gate with a meta referential narrative that finds our titular heroes meeting in school, bonding over their show, and eventually having a falling out when Dale (Andy Samberg) breaks away from their show for his own solo project and gets a CGI upgrade while Chip (John Mulaney), still in traditional 2D, is left behind (this plot point is reflected in the animation style between the two). But when a sinister mob plot involving kidnapping cartoon characters and harvesting/swapping their parts, as well as a stinky cheese addiction epidemic, is unveiled, the former buddies are forced back together, rediscovering their friendship and zest for adventure to stop the mob plot embracing the town.

And it’s actually…like…how in the hell did Disney actually approve this? This is sort of a Lonely Island movie, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring Andy Samberg. The main villain plot features cartoon characters that are kidnapped, have their mouths erased so “they can’t scream” and are thrown onto a shipping container and brought overseas to star in bootleg movies. It’s not overtly grotesque, and kids probably won’t be too put off, but the subtext will absolutely not be lost on more mature viewers. There’s also a cheese shop filled with nearly-comatose cheese addicts, and when our heroes approach the shop owner for the lowers voice “stinky cheese,” he immediately furrows his brow and asks, “You guys cops?” The kid-friendly silliness and the crime mesh so well together here, in no small part because of the animation being so excitingly diverse and the dialogue being wink-wink mature without actually crossing the line.

It’s also packed to the gills with references and meta-commentary (“He has those weird Polar Express eyes!” in reference to a character who never directly looks at anyone). To throw another movie under the bus, Space Jam: A New Legacy was similarly fan-servicey, but that movie never felt like more than brand shilling with its overt and out-of-place references to other Warner properties. Not only does Chip ‘n Dale feature several generic animated folks sprinkled amongst the humans, but the movie also draws from a deep well of other characters outside of the Disney monolith. It’s absolutely insane who Akiva Schaffer and the Disney lawyers were able to get ahold of for this movie. Hell, even “Ugly Sonic” (the maligned original design for the live-action Sonic movie, and yes, that is his official name here) gets a role beyond just a cameo nod. I have to resist spoiling some of the others, but there are some delightful surprises to be had.

One of the most bizarre elements of Chip ‘n Dale is how it not only centers on the brutal nature of show business but on how the arc of its main villain mirrors real life. The Peter Pan of this movie is an aging, hateful crimelord, embittered by his ejection from the Disney machine after puberty blockaded his heyday. The 1953 Peter Pan himself, Bobby Driscoll, was faced with similar treatment when severe acne required heavy makeup to hide it before he was terminated from his contract. Driscoll never recovered from the rejection from Hollywood and tragically succumbed to drug addiction years later. Admirably, the movie doesn’t poke fun at this but instead uses it as a way to exhibit how actors are often chewed up and spit out by Hollywood. It’s an ugly business, and while Chip ‘n Dale keeps it PG, it does so without shying away from the woes of showbiz.

I love that such a funny, entertaining movie is willing to display some baggage and a sanitized crime story, on Disney+ no less. Within the first twenty minutes, I was reminded of the awful Happytime Murders from a few years ago. That movie was basically “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Muppets were R-rated?” and failed to really justify why that needed to be a thing. Not only does Chip ‘n Dale successfully transplant the idea of seedy Hollywood into a family-friendly property, but it also does so in a mostly family-friendly way. The humor isn’t in sex jokes, swearing, and graphic violence, but in silly things the kids can get on board with. And also with veiled crime tropes and subtextual Hollywood humor the adults can recognize. Dreamworks monopolized this formula in the early 2000s with Shrek, and this Who Framed Roger Rabbit brand of humor is a niche that Disney can really dig into. I absolutely loved this movie, laughed hard every few minutes, and delighted in digging into its references both bizarre and obscure. In a streaming environment filled with things to easily scroll past, this is one hundred percent a flick to land on.

Have a recommendation for us? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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