Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Reviews
Resonant Line: "Ian: What part of "singing female chipmunks" don't these people understand?"
Providing this single elusive moment of quiet relief is the local fully air-conditioned cinema. With a seemingly endless stream of children's entertainment the only need greater than the parents to entertain children is Hollywood studio's insatiable passion to regurgitate old themes in vain attempts to satisfy both parents and children alike.
Ravishing the treasured childhood archives of Generation X and Y this year alone we have re-imagings of Transformers, Fame, Footloose, Where the wild things are, Nightmare on Elm Street, the list just keeps going. Safe to say, however, hands down, this has to be the worst and if it wasn't bad enough to breathe CGI life into a trio of singing rodents once, they have added insult to injury and do it twice and made it a sextet.
For most readers an intro into the concept of the chipmunks is not required, but for those of you doing slightly more interesting things than watching Saturday morning cartons between 1985 and 1989, the chipmunks consist of three preteen squirrel-like rodent brothers who become international singing sensations and torment their adoptive human father Dave on a regular basis.
The story for this chapter ; After a chipmunk-induced accident leaves Dave (Jason Lee) in traction, chipmunks Alvin (the brash one), Simon (the brainy one) and Theodore (the chubby one) are placed in the unwilling care of a half witted twenty-something family screw-up Toby (Zachary Levi).
Forced to return to school (surprisingly, high school) the boys reluctantly put aside there musical superstardom, until amazingly enough, the new principle Dr. Rubin (wonderfully played by Wendie Malick) recognises the boys, and quickly bribes them with the task of saving the school's suffering music program by winning a local Battle-of-the-Bands competition.
With the grand prize being $25,000 (the exact amount needed), news circulates reaching their ridiculously destitute scheming ex-agent and nemesis from the first film, Ian Hawke (David Cross). Determined to exact revenge on the chipmunks, Ian enrols a rival girl-rodent trio of counterparts known as The Chipettes - Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette into the same school, pitting the groups against eachother.
Romantic and musical sparks are ignited when the Chipmunks and Chipettes square off. Will the boys learn their lessons about family and friends and figure out that there is more to life than playing Wii and performing at the Staples Centre?
The slapstick middle-brow mayhem is well animated for the majority but distinctly goofy. The always charmingly mediocre concept of whiny, serenading rodents found its place on the 80's small screen and that is where the fuzzy pawed heroes should have remained.
Battering viewers with good morals like; beating someone is not the same as winning, self-absorption cause's pain and family comes first, the dramatic contrast to the overly sexualised female Chipettes and overt product placements is a complete turn off.
Not content with just patronising children, the film becomes simply unbearable for parents when the stereotyped, helium voiced, trash-talking fur-balls rattle off a barrage of rip-off quotes from highly inappropriate adult films like Silence of the lambs and Taxi driver.
A prerequisite for those over the age of 12, earplugs should be sold at the door and warnings should be plastered across the trailers regarding hearing loss and headaches. Still unclear to me is how its 2007 predecessor "Alvin" cleared a cool $217 million at the US box office alone, a sheer mystery.
The surprising array of stars is a definite plus but their talents were dreadfully unrealised. Jason Lee obviously only appeared for one day of shooting due to contractual obligation and was quickly replaced on-screen by comedian Zachary Levi. Levi delivers a plausible but connection-lacking performance as the likeable Toby character.
The chipmunks voiced by Justin Long, Jesse McCartney and Matthew Gray Gubler and the Chipettes voiced by comedians Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Anna Faris were unrecognisable under the computer augmentation. Why pay the money for decent actors if you can't tell it's them?
The Verdict: Falling far short of filling children's insatiable appetite for talking animals, this careless low-budget enterprise trades in weak reiterations of subplots past. The Squeakquel is as entertaining as your standard breakfast cereal commercial and is as easily forgettable.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 15/01/2010