When the box office figures for the US came in this weekend I was absolutely horrified! Sure I expected I Am Legend to do well, but the amount that Alvin and the Chipmunks got ($40+ million!) seemed absurd. Added to that the fact that it had earned more than Golden Compass did in its opening weekend just seemed ludicrous. The trailers I had seen seemed very mediocre and I wasn't looking forward to seeing it that much. So what a surprise, and a delightful one, to say how much I really enjoyed the movie. Sure its a kids movie through and through, and if you're not into talking animals then you will come out of this movie and criticise its plot, script and usual more adult things that critics criticise about. But if you go in willing to sit back and enjoy the movie you will realise there is a lot to enjoy. The three leads themselves, Alvin, Simon and Theodore if you've never seen the Chipmunks before, are all very likable and have some hilarious moments. The movie features consistent humour that ranges from fart jokes for kids, to some really subtle references, most notably one to Die Hard where for one moment I thought Alvin was going to complete his Yipee Kiyay moment and make the parents gasp in horror, he doesn't so don't get too excited. The script itself is pretty decent, there are the obligatory clunky sentimental bits, but generally the movie is consistent and full of laughs. It does outstay its welcome admittedly and feels that little bit too long, but these are mere quibbles as this is a movie that is bound to entertain many kids and adults alike, and the fact this did better than Golden Compass no longer frustrates me, as this is admittedly a much better movie than Golden Compass.
The three leads of the movies are CGI creations, they are also surprisingly voice by Justin Long (Alvin), Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon) and Jesse McCartney (Theodore), though you'd never know as obviously their voices have been morphed so they sound much more like the Chimpunks. Anyway their voices sound perfect, Theodore's being the most distinct and will make many audiences world wide sit their and go awww. Alvin is a great lead and has some brilliant moments. Simon is the most dull of the three but has some pretty funny moments as well. But its when the three start singing the movie just comes to life, the Chimpunks Christmas song definitely gave the older members of the audience to relish in, and their rendition of Funky Town is by far the highlight of the movie. The actual adult cast themselves are pretty decent. Jason Lee, from My Name is Earl, is a decent enough lead and at least does better than the adult actors in Garfield who seem almost asleep. When the sentimental stuff kicks in admittedly he does stumble a little bit, but generally Lee is on top form and definitely isn't always overshadowed by the chipmunks. David Cross does the traditional villain role pretty well, although he does start to irritate after a while and when he goes into pure evil mode later on in the film he just seems a bit silly. But by far the worst character in the movie has to be Claire, played by Cameron Richardson, she is out of place in this movie and the romance thing never plays off at all.
Where Alvin and the Chimpmunks succeeds where movies such as Garfield and Scooby Doo have failed is the fact it succeeds in the comedy department. Sure the movie has its nostalgia factor, but if it wasn't funny then the movie would be a disaster. Thankfully this is a very funny movie. The fart jokes are obviously aimed at kids, but thankfully there aren't that many of them, in fact when you compare this to something like Garfield you realise how well the scriptwriters have done keeping this to a minimum. Slapstick is obviously a big part but done very well and there are many set pieces that will please audiences. The songs as I have said are definitely the highlights and as I've said before the Funky Town rendition is just pitch perfect. There are many one liners to be found as well amongst amongst some of the clunkers that appear later on. The sentimental scenes also are not as horrific as some more recent family movies have been. In fact some of the scenes generally do warm your heart.
Overall Alvin and the Chimpunks is a surprisingly good movie that is definitely something parents should take their kids to see this Christmas. While maybe not as good as Enchanted this is definitely better than Golden Compass, and kids will lap this up.