Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers on Disney+.
In 2019, when the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog came out, no one could have predicted that the ruthless mockery of “Ugly Sonic”—the CGI version of the cartoon hedgehog with too-small eyes and unsettling human teeth—would lead to not only a total redesign but also a fairly significant cameo in the new Chip ‘n Dale movie. Because, yes, Ugly Sonic shows up in Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and it is possible we have given Twitter too much power.
Much like 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers offers a world in which cartoons are every bit as real as humans. It’s a way to make the movie, which is now streaming on Disney+, one big meta-joke. The chipmunks are washed-up actors from their’s ’80s TV show, with Chip (John Mulaney) selling insurance and Dale (Andy Samberg) reliving his glory days at fan cons. And you know who else is reliving his glory days at fan cons? None other than Ugly Sonic himself.
Ugly Sonic (voiced by I Think You Should Leave star Tim Robinson) proudly calls himself Ugly Sonic, displays the name on his fan-con booth, and signs the name on photos for snickering teenagers. “You can’t hurt my feelings if I’m in on the joke!” he insists.
Then he proudly tells a disbelieving Dale that he has a new reality series where he’ll do ride-alongs with the FBI, called Ugly Sonic: Uglier Crimes. Dale can’t help but stare at Sonic’s creepy, off-putting teeth as he ponders the fact that even Ugly Sonic is getting better offers than him.
Without spoiling too much, Ugly Sonic shows up a few more times in Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and in fact becomes a fairly crucial character in the film. That said, Sonic, which is a Paramount property, is not the only non-Disney animation character to make a cameo.
As director Akiva Schaffer told Decider in a previous interview, care was taken to include all kinds of animated characters, not just Disney properties. “I really worked hard to include third-party stuff, because if it’s going to be a love letter to animation, a celebration of animation, it needs to be a wide net of animation, not just Disney animation,” Schaffer said, adding “It was not easy and I keep giving big shout-outs to the lawyers—I always keep making a special point of that. I don’t think that happens on a lot of movies, but on this movie, those lawyers really had their hands full.”
He clarified though, that the Ugly Sonic jokes were done with love. “I have two kids who are 9 and 11, I’ve seen that Sonic movie 20 times, and I love it. And I tell Ben Schwartz about it—I text him pictures that I’m watching it, like, every other time. I love the Sonic movie.”
Sonic isn’t the only one who gets a ribbing. Chip ‘n Dale takes shots at Cats (2019), Polar Express (2004), and more when the two chipmunks visit the Valley—the Uncanny Valley, that is. Chip and Dale are brought to an unsettling location, look to their left, and see two furry humanoid cats—done in the style of Cats (2019)—fighting in the alley. Chip (voiced by John Mulaney) concludes they must be in the Uncanny Valley. “Do you remember that weird animation style from the early 2000s, where everything looked real, but nothing looked right?” he asks. “I think this is where they ended up.”
The chipmunks are then introduced to Bob, a motion-capture Viking played by Seth Rogen, who is unable to properly meet anyone’s eye line. Chip shudders. “He has those Polar Express eyes.”
There are plenty more fun cameos in store, both animated and live-action, so buckle up. No one is safe.