‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Many of us grew up with Disney cartoons on Saturday morning and Rescue Rangers was one of those shows. Two cute little chipmunks with squeaky voices and some great detective instincts made a show worth watching. Chip and Dale both have been with Disney since the very beginning and they’re almost on the level of Donald, Mickey, and Pluto. Even if you haven’t heard the theme song in a while, once you hear it in Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers all those memories come back in an instant. Having John Mulaney voice Chip and Andy Samberg voice Dale complimented the characters so well. It’s funny, fresh, and kind of emotional when it comes to the friendship they share.

After thirty years that their popular television show ended, chipmunks Chip and Dale live very different lives. When a cast member from the original series mysteriously disappears, the pair must reunite to save their friend. Co-writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand created a backstory for Chip and Dale that created an emotional connection to their friendship from the start. Anyone can relate to Chip and Dale because they both felt like outcasts in school before they met each other. After one lunch together, they performed until they became stars of their show. There are many surprises in this movie and the characters are very self-aware about the movie they’re in. 

Having established comedians like Mulaney and Samberg helped the characters of Chip and Dale develop into actual performers. They suited the characters extremely well, but you can see the straight man and wise guy trope between them. So it does feel like a buddy cop comedy, but also an old-fashioned tag team in regards to their comedic background. Our favourite chipmunks meet many other animated characters along the way and meet some odd characters in the uncanny valley. What was most impressive about this movie is the diverse animation used throughout for different characters. There is such a mixture of character designs from 2D to 3D that make this one unique.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a very fun time for the whole family. It feels very nostalgic but at the same time, it doesn’t rely on the nostalgia to tell the detective story in this sequel/reboot/remake. It was funny hearing characters in a Disney movie talk about sequels and reboots while they are in the middle of a remake themselves. It does get away from them a bit in the middle because they stretched out the story to fill time, or else the sentimental value of their friendship and how long they’ve known each other packed the emotional punch by the end of this film. Make sure to check out this Disney original film this weekend on Disney Plus!

Interview: ‘The Quest’ On Disney Plus Presents A New Prince With Elliott Ross

By: Amanda Guarragi

The Quest on Disney Plus offers fans of the Fantasy genre to dive into the world itself. It is a ground-breaking immersive competition series that drops eight young people into the fantastic, fictional world of Everealm, where they must save a Kingdom by fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Audiences have fallen in love with the fantasy genre because it is the truest form of escapism. When playing video games, reading a book, or watching a series, any fantasy world that is created can become a haven for so many. Disney has made a show for teenagers to believe in their power within to become a warrior on their terms. 

When Elliott Ross came across The Quest it was one project that he wanted to work on. As someone who is a diehard Lord of the Rings fan, he needed to be part of a fantasy television series. Ross plays Prince Cedric in the series and lights up the screen in every scene he is in. He has been honing his craft for over 12 years in London, until recently when he relocated to LA. He has a strong theatrical background, having worked at The RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and on London’s West End. Ross has been passionate about studying his craft and exploring every avenue in the acting industry, “I think I just felt like the work didn’t feel like work, and I enjoyed being consumed by it.” Sometimes work is more of a calling and that’s what it feels like for Ross. 

This series presents a new concept that allows fans of the fantasy genre to be more interactive with it. It fuses the fantastical realm of Everealm with regular teenagers who have always wanted to be part of that world. To be able to add the twist of a competition show, while structuring a narrative that fits the fantasy genre on top of that is impressive. Disney Plus has been able to construct new, interesting concepts that can have fans of any genre come together to work on something different. Ross loves the fantasy genre and when he found out that he was working with producer Mark Ordesky (Lord of the Rings), it was a dream come true,

“I was riding through the forest during a night shoot and I just kind of, I just took the moment in. I looked at the forest and I looked at the armor I was wearing and it looked like I was in Lord of the Rings. And I was like dude, this is my dream. I’m living my dream.”

– Elliott Ross, The Quest

It has been known that Disney always makes dreams come true for so many children all over the world. But little do people know, that actors who make-believe for a living also get the chance to fulfill their dreams in the projects they produce. Even though Ross plays a Prince in The Quest, he carries the same poise and kindness in his own life. When talking about his future and how he wants to grow his platform, he wants to share his resources to help others. He has had a passion for writing and in his next step, he is currently developing a TV comedy series script that explores modern patriarchal masculinity. Ross wants to use his platform to have an open discussion with his fans and others who have struggled with the process. He wants to be able to touch upon all of the sensitive topics while having a respectful dialogue in his series. 

Courtesy of Disney Plus

Ross has been able to explore every avenue of this industry and he has gained some wisdom as he creates this pathway for himself. After going through many projects and auditions, he has some advice for upcoming actors trying to make their way in the industry,

“I would say to young actors is it’s to not worry so much about the conventional way, because it doesn’t happen for everyone. It’s not easy to get into drama school and it’s, you know, not everyone gets to audition for all the projects. You have to make your own path through it. And I think with that in mind, it’s very important that young actors don’t get carried away in focusing on the big dreams. So my main piece of advice is focus on what is in front of you and focus on the next step.”

– Elliott Ross, The Quest

By creating your own path in life and not comparing yourself to others, you will be more fulfilled. Social media has also affected everyone’s mental health and motivation because of this constant comparison to other people. Ross believes that if you take it one step at a time and focus on what’s in front of you, you will be able to achieve anything. More importantly, you must surround yourself with people who will uplift you and support you while you navigate your life. Similar to the series The Quest, even though you’re in healthy competition with others, they’re all in the same boat trying to reach the same goal, but everyone is different. Ross has been working on his craft for some time now and his hard work has paid off because he now has a platform to help others.

All eight episodes of The Quest are available now on Disney Plus

‘Sneakerella’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Everyone believes in something, and some people truly believe in fairytales. What Disney has taught young children everywhere is that if you do have a dream, you should always push forward and fight for what you want most. It’s not about the kingdom, or winning the affection of a prince or princess, it has always been about achieving your own personal goals, no matter what they may be. Of course, life comes with many obstacles that one must overcome, but those obstacles just make you stronger in the end. It’s nice to know that Disney will continue reworking these old fairytales to modernize them for a new generation. That way there’s always an appreciation for these wholesome, heartfelt stories.

In Sneakerella, we meet El (Chosen Jacobs), who is an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens. He works as a stock boy in the shoe store that once belonged to his late mother. He hides his artistic talent from his overburdened stepfather and two mean-spirited stepbrothers. When El meets Kira King (Lexi Underwood), the daughter of the legendary basketball star and sneaker tycoon Darius King (John Salley), sparks fly as the two of them bond over their mutual affinity for sneakers. With a little nudge from his best friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) and a sprinkle of Fairy Godfather magic, El finds the courage to use his talent to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘legit’ sneaker designer in the industry.

The film caters to the talents of Chosen Jacobs, who will easily become a young Disney star. His voice, acting abilities, and great dance moves made him shine in every scene. Even though this film is reworked from the original story and slightly altered like A Cinderella Story was, it still felt original. It felt like a modern-day story that works in favour of new-age technology to get the classic story to work. The use of social media worked for the most part, but like any millennial, we know it’s easy to find someone by searching for them in every possible way, by using keywords. It worked and it didn’t, but it was still fun to watch. Jacobs and Underwood had really sweet chemistry, which made their duets adorable to watch.

Sneakerella had some strong moments because of the beautiful lyrics in the songs that were written specifically for this film. Even though the story of Cinderella has been remade over and over again, it was nice to see this modern take for a new generation. The link to El’s past with his mother being the heart of their neighbourhood carried emotional weight throughout the film. He just wanted to pursue his dream of making sneakers to make his mom proud and carry on her legacy in his way. It is heartfelt and sweet, even though the film does drag a bit in the last half. Some of the schemes went on for too long making the ending feel like a bit of a drag. The music and choreography are what make this film enjoyable and, of course, the performance from Chosen Jacobs.

Sneakerella premieres on Disney Plus on May 13th.

‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ (2022) Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There is truly nothing more important than family and family is whoever you want it to be. The new Cheaper by the Dozen shows a completely different family dynamic that involves two sets of divorced parents living cohesively and trying to make it all work. Of course, we were all apprehensive about this remake because of how much we loved the 2003 film, but Kenya Barris and Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry revamped the story and made it more relatable. They created this blended family, who are all experiencing change in their own way, under one roof with Zoey (Gabrielle Union) and Paul Baker (Zach Braff) leading the way.

The dynamic between Zoey and Paul Baker is what held this movie together. Their strength as parents and as individuals really helped when their children needed them. The reason why this was such an enjoyable family movie is because of how well Barris and Henry had a great balance between tough life lessons and humour. Paul Baker is one of the goofiest onscreen dads and Zach Braff’s comedic timing was on point. His line delivery had me howling in certain moments because of how unexpected those lines were. Zoey on the other hand was this cool mom who kept it fun, but also kept everyone in line. Gabrielle Union brought such a different maternal energy into the fold and put so much of herself into Zoey.

Braff and Union surprisingly had solid chemistry and worked really well together. They felt very natural together as if they have been raising these kids the whole time. Like all big families, there are always issues and important discussions to be had. There are moments in this film that highlight different experiences for each member of the Baker family, including microaggressions, racial profiling, and white privilege. These moments were scattered throughout and explained extremely well for everyone to understand. It’s important to share these conversations with all ages because they are able to absorb this information in order to be more inclusive in their everyday life.

Cheaper by the Dozen is an updated version of the 2003 film with a well-needed upgrade on the Baker family for a new generation. It’s funny, chaotic, and has wonderful life lessons that will resonate with more than one age group. It’s the family comedy we didn’t know we needed at this very moment and it’s coming to Disney Plus this Friday! Whether you’re a parent, teenager, or a child watching this movie, it’s educational for the whole family and the dad jokes never stop. Blending two families together and trying understand each of their needs is really what this movie is all about. Sometimes we all get lost in what we want that we fail to see what is right in front of us.

‘Turning Red’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

When we think of Pixar, we think of beautiful animation and a heartfelt story. In one-way or another, we are introduced to different characters that may be struggling with something. More importantly, Pixar is one of the few studios that address mental health through a child’s perspective. Not only are these stories marketed for children, but it also allows adults to understand their child a bit better. In Turning Red, we meet Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), who is a 13-year-old girl torn between being her mother’s obedient daughter and the chaos of her youth. As if that were not enough, when she gets too excited, she turns into a big red panda.

This movie is so very personal to me and it’s not only because it is set in Toronto. Growing up as an only child, there’s only so much room to make mistakes, let alone actually making them. The idea of the perfect daughter and the pressure that is placed on a girl at such a young age does take a toll. The idea that this perfection even exists in the eyes of a mother does more harm than good. Mei’s mother, Ming (Sandra Oh) controls her daughter’s every move and is overprotective of her. Mei wants to be able to do things her own way, as she develops into her own woman, but she can’t at 13. It’s that difficult stage of wanting to be independent but being way too young to do so. This coming-of-age story really hit hard because of how much Mei Lee was struggling to stand on her own as an individual and break through the idea of perfection.

Apart from the emotional side of this story, the cultural representation through the lore of the red panda was also important. Depending on the emotions building up inside Mei Lee, she can turn into the red panda at any time. The parallel between the panda lore and puberty is what makes this movie really funny and relatable. This is one movie that I wish I had growing up because it explains it so well, especially through the beautiful animation, and sailing through my hometown of Toronto. The story is quite simple: Mei Lee wants to go to the ‘4Town’ concert with her friends, but her mother won’t let her, so she takes matters into her own hands. After Ming embarrasses her, controls her, and turns her against her friends, Mei comes to the realization that sometimes parents don’t know their child at all and her friends are the ones that truly see her for who she is.

Turning Red is a strong coming-of-age film for Pixar, as writers Domee Shi and Julia Cho explore female agency during puberty. Shi also directed the animated feature and really presented Toronto in such a beautiful way on-screen. The ability to show different cultures coming together in my city was wonderful and I truly saw my best friends on-screen through Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park), and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). This is a movie that will resonate with three generations of women and it will present a different lens to view motherhood and adolescence. This animated feature has such a high-level energy that it will have you smiling from ear to ear.