Alvin and the Chipmunks

| December 18, 2007

Seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks was a little disappointing, as it failed to live up to the hype somewhat. Yet, when I looked back on the Alvin and the Chipmunks media that I remember from growing up, I guess it has about the same entertainment value. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, but … it definitely has it’s limitations.
Jason Lee plays the human in charge of the “‘munks,” as they’re now referred to since they do hip hop. He plays the struggling musician, Dave, who walks into his appointment with the record producer with the office help throwing themselves on him, and after his new song is rejected, those in the office aren’t just ignoring him, but are denying him the water and muffins they offered him on the way in. He makes a hasty retreat, stealing the basket of muffins, that unbeknownst to him, a trio of chipmunk brothers have decided to hide in.
The acting of Lee at this point came into question. I’m not actually familiar with his most familiar role as the title character in My Name Is Earl, but as popular as that is, I have to think his acting in that is better than it was seeming in this movie. Either the guy was getting paid a lot to do this role or he was getting ready to fire his agent after this, as he didn’t seem like he was enjoying it.
After Dave throws a hissy fit back at home, throwing all his music equipment out the door, the chipmunks, aka Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney) make themselves at home in his kitchen, searching for something to snack on. The thing I absolutely could not believe they did here, was the hiding in bowls thing. When Dave starts to notice something going on, they begin hiding in different spots throughout the kitchen, and they actually do the thing where they’re each hiding in an upside bowl, and they move every time Dave’s back is turned.
I didn’t think it could get much more trite than this, but it does. The nemesis in the movie is Dave’s record producer, Ian (David Cross). It’s clear he’s only in the business for the money, as once Dave discoveries the ‘munks talent of talking and singing and begins creating music for them, Ian totally exploits them, squeezing every dime and nickel out of their worth that he can. In fact, Cross’ work in the film, although somewhat of a cookie cutter role for a bad guy that pretends he’s good, is probably the best acting in the film.
Lee did have some good moments, though later on in the story. Once he begins defending the chipmunks instead of fighting them, he keeps explaining that they’re only kids. There’s something about his arguments that from an acting standpoint are when he’s the most convincing. Then again, that’s when he’s acting with other people instead of fuzzy little rodents.
Not that the movie was that bad, it just wasn’t that great. It was still everything I remembered from my childhood, but I found it was one of those things that you just can’t go back to. Alvin and the Chipmunks was better left as a memory, and hearing the song a few times a year at Christmas.
That being said, my daughter and every other kid in the theatre seemed to enjoy the movie as much as I remembered enjoying it when I was young, especially with the modern references added in, such as the ‘munks singing Bad Day and saying “Boom-Chicka-Wah-Wow.” Take the kids and they’ll enjoy it, but try to remember your own enjoyment growing up instead of trying to find it again.

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