Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 19, 2005)
With the wonderful “Walt Disney Treasures” sets meant for the serious collectors, we now get another series aimed more at casual fans of animation. Entitled Starring Chip ‘n’ Dale, this one presents nine of the chipmunks’ adventures in one package.
For folks with all of the “Treasures” releases, the other three Starring… collections are essentially a waste of time. When we look at the 24 shorts included in the sets devoted to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, only two of them don’t appear elsewhere – yet. Found on Starring Donald, both “Inferior Decorator” and “Bee at the Beach” should show up in The Chronological Donald, Volume 2 when it arrives. Collectors will already own the other 22 shorts.
That’s not the case with the nine cartoons on Dale. As far as I can tell, every one of them makes its DVD debut here. I’m sure that eventually we’ll get a “Treasures” release for Chip an’ Dale, but as far as I know, one’s not been officially announced. That makes this set of prime interest to collectors – at least for the time being.
For each short, I’ll offer the following information: the year in which it was produced and its director. I’ll also provide a quick synopsis of the cartoon plus my number grade for each one done on a scale of 1 to 10.
Chicken in the Rough (1951, J. Hannah): The chipmunks try to collect food while they avoid a cantankerous rooster. Dale also runs into trouble when he accidentally hatches an egg. Usually shorts that star cute characters like these or Tweety Bird don’t feature other adorable participants. “Chicken” violates that concept with the baby chick. It doesn’t showcase the chipmunks to great advantage, partially because it mainly focuses on Dale. Still, it’s an interesting twist on the old barnyard concept. 7/10.
Chip an’ Dale (1947, J. Hannah): Donald Duck displaces the chipmunks from their home when he cuts down a little tree. They attempt to reclaim their property. “Chip” doesn’t mark the pair’s first appearance, but it does show the duo in an early state. They bring out the worst in the Duck, which means fun. 7/10.
Out of Scale (1951, J. Hannah): Because it doesn’t fit with the proportions of his backyard train, Donald tries to remove the tree in which Chip an’ Dale live. As with the prior cartoon, the chipmunks create a nice foil for Donald, and that helps make “Scale” another winning short, especially when it takes a clever twist toward the end. It does make one question the pair’s sexuality when they set up house together, though. 7/10.
Two Chips and a Miss (1952, J. Hannah): A female chipmunk named Clarice woos both Chip an’ Dale. Yeah, right - the truest moment of this short is when Chip’s reflection calls him a “gay dog”. The concept of this short is an odd one for this pair, and the preponderance of bland musical numbers makes it inferior. 3/10.
Food for Feudin’ (1950, C. Nichols): Pluto provokes the chipmunks’ wrath when he interferes with their supply of nuts. Back in their normal habitat, “Food” works much better than its predecessor. It works more to their strengths and creates a pretty good adventure. 7/10.
Working for Peanuts (1953, J. Hannah): When the chipmunks see all the peanuts a zoo elephant receives, they try to horn in on that action. As I previously expressed, Chip an’ Dale worked well against Donald Duck, but you won’t tell that here. Donald receives primary billing for this short but plays a surprisingly small role. Instead, the chipmunks mainly battle Dolores the elephant. She’s not a very interesting character, and that leaves “Peanuts” as a lackluster short. 5/10.
Out on a Limb (1950, J. Hannah): Donald trims trees and taunts Chip an’ Dale. Unusually, Donald gets the better of the chipmunks more often than the reverse, as he really sticks it to them for a while. Of course, the situation inevitably switches, and all of this creates a pretty lively short. 7/10.
Three for Breakfast (1948, J. Hannah): Chip an’ Dale try to pilfer the tasty pancakes made by Donald. The Donald/Chip an’ Dale shorts don’t often try to vary radically from the general theme, but they usually prosper anyway. The dynamic works, so despite a typical story, “Breakfast” is fun. 7/10.
Dragon Around (1954, J. Hannah): When Dale sees Donald’s construction vehicle, the imaginative rodent thinks he’s a dragon. The pair battle both mechanical beast and Duck. This one uses the usual basic story, but its use of the construction device and the fantasy theme make it more creative than most. 8/10.
Title footnote: Since this DVD’s cover calls it Starring Chip ‘n’ Dale, that’s what I used. However, the proper way to refer to the characters seems to be Chip an’ Dale, so I called them that anywhere other than when I referred to the title.