I watched one of the wildest ideas brought to life over the weekend on Disney+ Hotstar—Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers. Amongst the many, many easter eggs you can spot while watching the movie, the most talked-about cameo was none other than the rejected version of Sonic the Hedgehog. But how did something like this (that isn’t even owned by Disney) end up in a Disney+ film?
Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers, based on the characters Chip and Dale from the animated TV series of the same name, premiered pretty recently on 16 May 2022. It’s now available to watch on Disney+ Hotstar, and it has since gotten largely positive reviews from critics who’ve praised it for its animation, meta-commentary, humor, and voice acting.
The film’s meta-commentary is a stand-out reason why the movie itself is entertaining. And it reminds me a lot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?—where the film is filled with recognisable animated characters who live alongside humans. It’s also wild that non-Disney properties filled up the list of cameos and easter eggs in a film made by Disney—a company that’s extremely serious about its own properties.
“It was super-important to me to get a bunch of third-party cartoons, because if this is going to be some sort of a celebration of animation, it can’t just be a celebration of Disney animation… You don’t want it to feel like an ad for Disney Plus,” said director Akiva Schaffer.
Early into the film, you’re introduced to the self-proclaimed Ugly Sonic at a fandom convention. He’s a slightly worse-for-wear version of the original “ugly Sonic” design created by Paramount Pictures when they first introduced what the popular Sega character looked like in the 2020 live-action film.
Chip ‘N Dale poked fun at Ugly Sonic’s early design—from naked, gloveless furry hand, his tiny, beady little eyes, to his weirdly detailed, tiny human teeth. After a public outcry, the character was quickly and substantially redesigned for the actual film release.
“It’s one of my favorite [cameos in the film]… I can speak to that. It’s one of my favorite things in the movie. And I’m very excited for people to see it … I don’t know what I should, what I’m allowed to say [about it]. I think I will actually plead the fifth,” said Schaffer.
Schaffer also explained that getting non-Disney properties into the movie was “a process”. He added that he wants to “thank the Disney lawyers” for being team players.
“[The lawyers] super stayed optimistic about it, and really saw the value of the third-party stuff, and they had to really work hard… It’s easy for me to go, like, Oh, it would be cool if My Little Pony was in the movie, and they’re like, running in the hallways… but then [the lawyers] have to go call Mattel and pitch them the movie, and tell them it’s not making fun of [the characters], and then I have to get on, and then blah, blah, blah. So it was a process. But you know, it makes [the movie] so much better,” said Schaffer.
But it wasn’t just non-Disney properties that were being featured. Loads of Disney characters made their appearances, and many even had redesigns made—and bootleg versions—that didn’t really paint them in a good light like how Disney would like. This movie felt like a fever dream, and I’m glad it was made for our entertainment.
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