Movies driven by nostalgia are a cash grab 90% of the time. For example, we have Ghostbusters, Power Rangers, The Mummy, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Charlie's Angels. However, when done right, nostalgia is just an add-on to what the movie has to offer. Some ways movies can pull this off are by either expanding on their universe, going deeper with their characters' motivations, or merging decades worth of what made the characters what they are to the test against time.
Sticking to roots but not growing branches
Tom & Jerry, the 2021 film, is a perfect example of how rerunning the exact same formula will not work time and time again. Everyone knows that the classic duo is loved to death and the movie cashes in on that goodwill rather than adding some depth to its movie.
What you see in the movie is the exact same thing you'll get in any of the Tom & Jerry episodes. There is no new ground being broken other than the fact they are now animated with real actors by their side.
With the basic concept of a cat and mouse always being at each other's throats, the film bores its audience with the classic tale beaten to death. However, it is not only its lack of breaking the mold that holds back the entirety of the true potential a Tom & Jerry movie could have had.
It had the option of adding in so many of the characters that exist within their universe such as Jerry's little brother, Nibbles. Not to mention the adorable woodpecker that thought Jerry was its mother for an entire episode. Some honorable mentions would be Spike's son, Tyke, and Jerry's extended family, such as his bigger brother, Cousin Muscles, and Uncle Pecos.
Even with all of its flaws, it is still quite an enjoyable movie as it hones in on the nostalgia that the duo brings into any property they are in. The lesson of being long-time frenemies forming an alliance will never get old, but it is a cliche if one is not adding anything more to it. There is no risk, no stakes, just a family-friendly Tom & Jerry classic.
Changing with the times
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, the 2022 film, is a perfect example of what studios can do when the element of nostalgia is on their side. One way to bring nostalgia as a supporter and not the main element of the film is by instantly throwing away the formula that was used for its episodes.
The film does this by pulling us out of the imaginary box of expectations we have for it by making Chip 'n Dale actual actors for their series, therefore pulling the audience away from the expectation that they know these characters from what they may have seen from their episodes.
Not only did the film give the origin to how the duo came to be by showing us how they met during their time in school but they also went beyond by answering questions as to why their series ever got discontinued its own in-universe answer!
However, the reason why Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers excels at being a successful nostalgic-driven movie is due to it being more than anyone ever expected it to be.
The film brings in characters from other universes that exist within Disney such as "Ugly Sonic" who is the version of Sonic we had the unfortunate chance to witness in the first trailer for Sonic: The Hedgehog (2020) as a full-fledged character, not just as the meme he has come to be known by.
Not only that, but the film does a great job of educating its viewers by making the film a tribute to all the styles of animation, such as claymation, 2D, and 3D while incorporating live-action elements into the mix as well.
Chip 'n Dale went above and beyond the expectations for what it could have been if it wanted to just rerun the same formula of their episodes to turn it into a quick and easy cash grab. The studio and story makers certainly put their efforts into making a movie such as this while the animation team tapped into just how creatively they could add style and life to their film.