Family Movie

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Distributed By: 20th Century Fox

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I was a kid, I had one record that I used to play over and over again on my portable record player – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).  I loved it!  I played it at the normal 45 speed, sped it up, slowed it down.  It was great fun.  When I got older, my parents bought me Chipmunk Punk, an album featuring the latest hit songs, such as Call Me and My Sharona, redone Chipmunks style.  I watched the cartoon series every time it was on.  I simply loved the Chipmunks!

            When I heard that a new Chipmunks movie was slated to hit the theaters, I was a tad skeptical.  How many of my childhood favorite characters had been redone and ruined by Hollywood’s remake craze?  Then, I started seeing the promos for the movie and realized it looked pretty funny.  However, events conspired against me seeing it in the movie theater and I would have to wait until it came out on DVD.  Seeing the promos for the DVD and realizing that this movie looked even funnier than I had originally thought, I wasted no time in renting Alvin and the Chipmunks as soon as it hit the stores.

            Alvin and the Chipmunks retells the tale of how David Seville met Alvin, Simon and Theodore and how they eventually recorded The Chipmunk Song that would be a jumpstart to their music career.  When they first meet, songwriter David Seville’s music has just been rejected by former schoolmate and now record mogul Ian Hawke.  Dejected, he leaves the record company vowing to never write another song.  Meanwhile, Alvin, Simon and Theodore find themselves in the same record company, the tree that was once their home having been cut down and used as the company’s Christmas tree.  They end up in the basket that David takes on his way out of the company and thus, end up in David’s home.

            Finding themselves in a new and exciting place filled with foods of all kinds, the Chipmunks waste no time settling in.  When David stumbles upon his new roommates, he is determined to get rid of them, but he soon discovers that the Chipmunks aren’t your average wildlife animals.  They can not only talk, but they can sing!  Amazed, a light bulb goes off in David’s head and he begins composing a song for the Chipmunks to sing – The Christmas Song!

            Unfortunately, upon hearing the song, record producer Ian Hawke becomes greedy, devising a way to have exclusive rights over the Chipmunks, effectively cutting David Seville out of the picture.  What’s worse, he plants doubts in the Chipmunks’ heads about David’s loyalty to them.  Forgetting that the Chipmunks are just kids, he exposes them to more than they can handle and overworks the trio.  Can David save the Chipmunks from the greedy record producer?  And, in doing so, does he have a prayer of saving his new family?

            I found Alvin and Chipmunks to be an unbelievably fun movie.  From the very start of the film, we discover that this is a more up-to-date version of the tale, especially when the Chipmunks are singing Daniel Powter’s Bad Day while storing their nuts for the winter.  The Chipmunks are adorable, made even more realistic through computer animation.  These are not the cartoon characters of my childhood and yet, I enjoyed the Chipmunks in this movie just as much.  I loved the fact that the animators added in little touches that might go unnoticed, but are synchronous to the fact that, while adorable creatures, the Chipmunks are still animals – every once in a while, one of the trio would begin scratching themselves with their hind legs.  Nice touch!

            I was surprised to find Jason Lee to be a very believable David Seville.  This role is a far cry from his role as Earl Hickey in the comedy television series, My Name Is Earl.  The voices of Alvin, Theodore and Simon are supplied by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney respectively.  I’d like to say that they portrayed their roles well, but the cuteness of the chipmunks is mostly in the lines supplied to them and their high pitched voices.  Anyone could have read the lines and had their voices manipulated and would have been fine in the roles.  David Cross did such a great job in his portrayal of Ian Hawke that, by the end of the movie, you forget he’s an actor and end up despising the man. 

            I do have some questions though – How is it that Chipmunks, living in the forest for the entire early years of their lives, know what Christmas is?  How do they know all the latest songs?  How do they know how to use kitchen appliances?  How do they know about television?  And yet, these questions seem to lack importance as you are drawn in by the story and the little details revealed such as how Simon got his glasses or why Alvin wears a shirt with an “A” embroidered on it.

            Now, everyone knows I love extras and the Alvin and the Chipmunks DVD comes with a few of them.  Of course, there is the option to hear the movie in different languages.  You can watch the film in either wide screen or full screen.  Prior to the feature presentation, you get to watch two movie promos, so I don’t understand why they should have more movie promos in the Special Features section.  Chip-Chip-Hooray! is a featurette that supplies a behind the scenes look at the history of Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Hitting the Harmony is a Chipmunk music featurette.  There is also a sneak peek at the movie Horton Hears a Who!  But be forewarned: if you don’t check both sides of the DVD, you will miss out on some of the special features!

            Overall, Alvin and the Chipmunks is an adorable film for kids and a laugh out loud film for adults.  My favorite scene involves Alvin, a dishwasher and the rinse cycle.  I refuse to say more about it – you’ll have to see the movie to find out more!  So, “Get ‘Munked!”  Believe me, this movie is worth every penny!


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