Interview: Screenwriters Dan Gregor and Doug Mand Talk Bringing ‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ to Disney+

*Warning: The following interview contains spoilers for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers*

During my interview with screenwriters Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, I admitted that I never knew I wanted a Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie until I sat in front of my TV watching the film on Disney+. In that regard, Doug Mand revealed the film’s original title as they were writing the screenplay: 

“The original title of our script was The Rescue Rangers Reboot that Nobody Asked For.”

Nobody may have asked for a Rescue Rangers reboot, but it’s here, and it’s one of the funniest comedies of the year, especially if you are a fan of the classic TV show, which aired on the Disney Channel from 1989 to 1990. At its core, the movie is a love letter to that particular TV show, and in writing the screenplay, Dan Gregor explained that they wanted to retain the element that the show did extraordinarily, which was to explore the vibe of being a six-inch tall person:

“The things that we got to do in this [film] is taking that same vibe of what is it like to be a tiny, tiny person living in the real world? And how and how do you repurpose things? How do you know what kinds of things are miniature for you versus repurposing human-size objects? The Rescue Rangers video games did this amazing job of always keeping you in human spaces. And that sort of scale was always really fun and important to the show. We loved jumping into that here, too.”

One of the film’s main inspirations to have Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) in the real world was Robert ZemeckisWho Framed Roger Rabbit? as Doug Mand explains:

“I think exploring the scope of the show, building the world the way the show did so incredibly well, and then taking what we loved about that. We also obviously used Roger Rabbit as an inspiration for toons living in a world where humans exist also, which was something that we were really excited about. We also felt like, hopefully, it can make an easier introduction to the world for people who don’t know who Chip n’ Dale are. So it felt like we were taking what we love from it, and also taking what we loved about another property, and using it to just say if that’s true, what else is true?”

And speaking on other properties, the film is jam-packed with cameos from other Intellectual Properties that aren’t part of the Disney brand or the Chip ‘n Dale universe. In trying to juggle all of these cameos, the most important element for Dan Gregor was not to let the film feel like a big cross-promotional advertisement for Disney or other studios’ brands:

“It was really important that we honor and respect that logic of the fact that [Chip and Dale] are real people living in a real Los Angeles, and they’re just old actors. In that logic, it just wouldn’t just be old Disney actors walking around Los Angeles, it would be actors from all the studios, from all the properties. So that was super important for us to really strike out as far as possible to get characters that just would not organically be in the same property as the rest of the Rangers.”

Adding to what Dan has said, Doug Mand said that they were led by what serves the story “and the ultimate messaging of the story, about friendship about letting go of the past, about forgiveness, and ask ourselves, what helps us create this world in the best way possible and what serves the story?”

One of the bigger challenges in juggling so many IPs was the fact that the entire cameos became a legal riddle for the writers, as explained by Dan Gregor:

“The truth is that every single one of these jokes and characters went through many iterations because, as you can probably guess, the whole movie is a legal riddle. And so we were constantly switching between characters in certain parts and concepts in other parts. In the convention center, it was super important for us to have characters that were past their prime, and forgotten people that were not necessarily respected.”

In writing the film’s main antagonist, Sweet Pete (Will Arnett), Dan Gregor said that the villain was the worst-case scenario of what would happen if you held on to your past so much:

“I think we really wanted to talk about the funhouse mirror version of what Dale had been going through. When you hold on to your past so tightly that it kind of hurdles you and the idea that the villain of the movie would be the worst-case scenario of that was always important to us. And from there, there was a logic in former child stars, who are the cautionary tale that we all have grown up with. Peter Pan is this cartoon-specific version because he was the boy who couldn’t grow up and now we’re asking him what’s it like when he’s forced to grow up and how that character struggles with change is to us felt like a really good logic that mirrored Dale’s journey.”

In working with director Akiva Schaffer and The Lonely Island, Doug Mand expressed that their collaboration was wonderful:

“Our first meeting with Akiva was so wonderful because we were huge fans of Akiva and The Lonely Island and in a lot of ways we looked up to them. They were a sketch group that then turned those sketches in short films on SNL and into a career, and they were also childhood friends. I think there was a certain amount of shorthand that we had with experience. And Akiva saw the script and he really got what we were trying to do, and had a couple of little thoughts that were really illuminating for us. And so we immediately got into a very comfortable collaboration with Akiva. Andy [Samberg] and Akiva are always talking because they’re best friends and because he’s now doing the movie. So it did become this free-flowing conversation. We have such an extensive text chain of just spitballing ideas. So I would just say the experience was very fluid with Akiva and The Lonely Island. They were just so easy to work with. And everyone wanted the same thing.

We couldn’t have asked for, and this is not just hyperbole, we could not have asked for a better partner than Akiva and Andy. It was one of the amazing miracles of this movie that it found its way to Akiva, and then Akiva agreed to do it and put so much of his heart and soul into the movie as well. It really is like a miracle. And I couldn’t have asked for a better situation of trying to make each other laugh, trying to get the best movie together, always fine-tuning it, and always just trying to beat the last thing to make it great.”

And on a possible sequel, this is what Doug Mand had to say on it:

“We think this is a pretty rich world. And there’s a lot left to explore. It would be incredibly thrilling. And if we could get the team back together to do another one of these it would be a dream come true. There are definitely ideas. And there are lots of ways to go with this. We feel pretty excited about that prospect. But unless you know someone at Disney that can greenlight it, we don’t know yet.”

You’ve heard them, Disney. Greenlight the sequel already!

You can listen to our entire conversation below and stream Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers on Disney+

[Quotes were edited for length and clarity]


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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