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Sunday, January 24, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel

When i was about six years old, I remember that we owned the single The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) by David Seville and the Chipmunks on Liberty Records; it had a greenish label. I loved that tune, and i could do a reasonable imitation of the holiday song.

Somewhere along the line, Alvin and his brothers became television stars in both the 1960s and 1980s. Still, I was mildly surprised that there was going to be a movie, starring Jason Lee, Earl of NBC's now canceled My Name Is Earl. The 2007 movie was a big hit, grossing over $200 million in domestic sales, despite reviews that were tepid at best. I didn't see it.

This meant, naturally, a sequel. When I took the daughter to the Princess and the Frog, Lydia laughed at the previews for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. She had such a lousy time at the Disney movie on January 2 that we went to see Alvin 2 on January 9.

It was terrible. My daughter loved it.

Basically, the story finds a way to write out most of the David Seville character, stuck in a French hospital, putting the rodents (voiced by Justin Long as Alvin, Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon, and Jesse McCartney as Theodore) end up under the care of a slacker nephew (Zachary Levi of NBC's Chuck) who plays video games constantly. Meanwhile the Chipmunks are sent to high school. The principal (Wendie Malick of the former NBC show, Just Shoot Me!), who has a chipmunks tattoo, is counting on the group to win the big prize so help save the school's music program.

Meanwhile, the Chipmunks' former manager has discovered three female chipmunks, dubbed the Chipettes (voiced by Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate), to compete against Alvin and his brothers. And they look remarkably like the Chipmunks.

There's more, but not worth retelling. When I say the film was bad, I don't mean the picture was out of focus. I mean that there was little care taken in creating a coherent, interesting story. Cynical cinema making. Yet, this movie is bound to hit $200 million in less than a month.

The appeal for my daughter, I suppose, was the music, retreads of popular songs such as Single Ladies. There were only four people in the theater when we went, and the other two had left, so the daughter got to literally dance in the aisles. I'm glad she enjoyed it, though a rodent imperiled briefly made her nervous.

Oh, and for you completists, I should note that there's a scene at the very end, after the credits; it is NOT worth waiting for.

How long will it be before the daughter regrets this post?

Oh, one more thing. Why is it Alvin and the Chipmunks? Is Alvin NOT a Chipmunk? Or is this like Diana Ross & the Supremes, somehow?


1 comment:

Nik said...

Peter and I watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox a couple weeks ago which was GREAT as it worked on both the kid an adult level, a bit like a Pixar movie but with a more handmade, eccentric quality like all Wes Anderson's movies. Very highly recommended though.