June Film Reviews

Harry Moore

Chip ’n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers

Disney’s second-tier rodents and stars of the early ’90s Disney Channel series Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers are thrust back into the limelight in this family comedy that imagines a world in which real people and animated characters live side by side. Directed by Akiva Schaffer, best known as part of Saturday Night Live’s comedy rap troupe The Lonely Island and also as the director of comedy gems Hot Rod and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, the film takes on a meta, Roger Rabbit-style approach in reimagining the chipmunk adventurers. In the film, Chip and Dale are the former stars of the Rescue Rangers TV show, but after the cancellation of their series, the duo (voiced here by comedians John Mulaney and Andy Samberg) haven’t spoken in decades and have taken on decidedly different paths with Chip becoming an insurance salesman and Dale a meet and greet regular on the fan convention circuit. The pair are reunited when their former co-star Monterey Jack (voiced by Eric Bana) goes missing, and they find themselves engulfed in the mystery as they search for their friend. The film moves at a breakneck pace, packing jokes into every scene with a cacophony of background gags and cameos of famous cartoons that range from all eras of animation and, surprisingly, from properties owned by rival film studies, including appearances from classic Disney characters to Muppets and the more modern Adult Swim output. Disney allows for the filmmakers to poke fun at some of the films and characters from their catalog; most notably we see a villainous, middle-aged and bloated Peter Pan (voiced by Will Arnett) running a counterfeiting operation, among many other surprise appearances. The animation effects in the film are seamless with traditional hand drawn characters interacting with both computer animated creatures, puppets and real actors, while the talented voices of comic performers keep things entertaining for audiences both young and old. The latest release on Disney+ marks a new high point for the feature film output on the streamer with this fun and funny family comedy. Available on Disney+


George Carlin’s American Dream

The new two-part documentary film from HBO and directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio explores the life and work of George Carlin. Carlin, who is widely considered to be one of the best and most influential stand-up comedians of all time, alongside Richard Pryor, is a figure whose life story is well suited to the documentary format. The film delves into a trove of stand-up routines, archive footage from TV appearances, personal notes and letters, and new interviews with Carlin’s friends, family and famous fans. American Dream is an exhaustive documentary on its subjects, digging into every aspect of Carlin’s life from his upbringing by a single mother after taking her children away from their abusive father to the early days of his career in comedy, leading to up his work as an establishment comedian before walking away from that lucrative career path to embracing the counterculture movement of the ’60s and pioneering a new brand of comedy that spoke truth to power and rallied against the constraints put on freedom of speech at the time. The film goes to great lengths to demonstrate how Carlin would consistently reinvent his act for a new generation of audiences, maintaining his relevance in the comedy sphere for five decades, constantly spouting a cutting and unique point of view about the world around him, never shying away from the darker side of his world view. But while the film is a love letter to Carlin’s work, which continues to be just as relevant in our modern society years after his passing, it also shines a light on his personal demons, humanizing one of the great comic and social thinkers of the last half century. American Dream serves as both a well-rounded and thorough introduction to the mind and work of George Carlin for the uninitiated, and for the long-time fan it is an engaging deep dive into the comedian that is more than just a highlight reel of his greatest hits. Available on HBO


Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once is among the most daring and fresh films to come out in recent years, a decisively modern piece of cinema that is likely to become a touchstone work from this era of filmmaking. The film follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a dissatisfied Asian American woman who feels her life has passed her buy, as she runs a laundromat with her downtrodden and unhappy husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), keeps drifting further and further away from her. However, when arriving at an IRS building for a meeting with her auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn is approached by a different, far more confident version of Waymond, who tells her he is from the Alphaverse and that every decision someone makes creates a new alternate universe. A dark force is destroying every universe, and the fate of the multiverse is in her hands. By jumping into her many and various lives not lived, Evelyn acquires a range of highly competent skills that allow her to fight for the universe and her family. Filmmaking duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (also known as the Daniels) wrote and directed the film with such unique style and visual flair, telling a story that deftly combines world-ending stakes with a touching family drama and more than a few dashes of kung fu. Everything Everywhere All at Once is an excellent film that demands to be seen at once.