Chip & Dale & Nic(k)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a movie where Nick Cage (played by Nic Cage) finds himself embroiled in a criminal conspiracy. Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a movie where Chip and Dale (the stars of the cartoon Rescue Rangers) find themselves embroiled in a criminal conspiracy. Both of these movies are pretty meta stories that play with the idea of the actors themselves (be they Cage or chipmunk) going on an adventure that’s ‘real’ instead of their usual fiction, and both are messy movies but are a lot of fun.

What’s striking, though, is how each movie does something different with the meta-reputation of its protagonists. Chip and Dale, like Nicolas Cage, are larger-than-life and bring their own baggage and it’s up to the movies’ narratives to deal with it. And they do, though to varying success.

Massive Talent spends a good amount of time sketching out what makes Nick Cage tick as a character, and in doing so veers away from the weirdness of having a character named Nick Cage who’s a lot like Nic Cage and played by Nic Cage. It works, in places, because the idea of Nick Cage bonding with Pedro Pascal’s Javi while trying to escape his own Caginess does have merit. Unfortunately, the third act puts both the bromance and Caginess aside in favor of a disappointingly generic finale. It’s understandable; there is (presumably) a diminishing return on Cage Energy, and Massive Talent doesn’t reach that point, though at the expense of not leaning all the way in.

Conversely, Rescue Rangers’ conceit is meeting Chip and Dale, the stars of the real Rescue Rangers cartoon, years and years after their prime. The movie, though, leans all the way into it, creating a bizarre world where literally every animated character ever exists in the real world; Roger Rabbit on a delightful cocktail of party drugs. It teases out a world wherein Chip and Dale would be estranged has-beens, and then uses that to fuel its drama. It’s the weirdness of it all that facilities a narrative for the two chipmunks rekindle their bromance and solve crime. Things do get a little muddled along the way, and the chipmunks are sketched a little lighter than in a more focused movie but it, like Massive Talent, works for the most part.

Both movies are delightfully weird and merrily play along the line between reality and fiction. I’m glad both exist with their offbeat sensibilities and bold concepts (seriously, the movies exist now, but try explaining them to someone who’s no idea of it). Maybe more storytellers will try their hands at these meta-but-not movies, and hey, maybe the next one will nail it perfectly.

(Personally, I think that means going full Cage)

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