Monday, January 11, 2010

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Cashing In

There are things you just have to do as a parent. You don't have to enjoy them, you just have to do them.

Seeing a sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks is one of them. I tried, mind you. The original movie's rated about a 6 on IMDB, with the sequel at just under 3, so it's nearly half as good as the original, right? (That was more for The Boy, admittedly.)

The highly lauded Princess and the Frog was playing at the same time, for example. But, as The Flower explained, the Princess is a frog practically the whole movie. And who wants to see a movie about frogs?

Chipmunks, on the other hand, are apparently God's gift to celluloid.

So, let me start by saying The Flower was pleased. No regrets. Thought it was a fine movie.

Me? Well, I survived. Racked up a few Daddy points. It was only physically painful a couple of times—as when the Chipmunks did the Bee Gees. (I'm not exaggerating: The frequency and volume did actually hurt my ears, which I have not sufficiently impaired through the blasting of rock music.)

And it's nice to see that Betty Thomas is still working. She was great on "Hill Street Blues". And as a director, I thought some of her '90s movies were cute (The Brady Bunch Movie, Private Parts, The Late Shift). Sort of interestingly, The Flower was also obsessed with seeing Thomas' previous feature John Tucker Must Die. (She didn't like it, though. If I'd remembered, I would've tried that, too.)

The original A&TC was not without its charm. Jason Lee is pretty good at being both irascible and paternal as Dave. (He's barely in the sequel.) Cameron Richardson was cute 'n' perky as the cute 'n' perky love interest. (She's not in the sequel at all.) David Cross is, of course, excellent at being the sleazy record company executive. (He's back, at least.)

And you had a simple plot: Chipmunk singing group makes it big in the city, learns family values. In the (ugh) "squeakuel", you've got more plot than any 80 minute movie oughtta have. (This movie has a whole lot of plot gettin' in the way of the story, as Joe Bob Briggs would say.)

You've got loser Toby (Zachary Levi, Chuck of "Chuck") taking care of the Chipmunks. You've got the chipmunks going to school. You got Alvin trying to fit in with the cool kids (even though the girls adore the Chipmunks who are both rock stars and cuddly little mammals). You've got the stern principal (Wendy Malick) who's trying to save the school music program. You've got Alvin and Simon fighting while Theodore longs for family values.

This all taking from the presumably main plot of evil David Cross having three new singing Chipmunks almost literally dropped in his lap, and trying to use them to both destroy the old Chipmunks and restore his lost musical producer career.

Also, of course, these are girl chipmunks ("The Chipettes") who are perfect analogs for the boys and act as their biggest fans, love interests and foils. Fun fact: Janice Karman, who created the Chipettes and receives a credit for this in the movie, was the daughter-in-law of Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who created the Chipmunks. She also voiced all of the Chipettes in the TV series where they originally appeared.

We're going for the $200M box office here, though, so we get hot properties Christina Applegate, Amy Pohler and Anna Faris doing the girls.

And, hell, they're going to get pretty close to $200M, so who am I to complain? (Oh, right, the guy who paid $20 to see this!) And, really, if you lower the bar on your expectations—I mean, way low, here, lower than the original—the time will pass reasonably quickly, if rather frantically.

But The Flower liked it, and so did some of her friends who saw it, and in the long view, it's not any worse than Dungeons and Dragons, which I took the boy to see.


  1. What's the matter with you? Next thing you know you are going to dis American Idol.

    The Chipmunks are what made America great!

  2. You have plenty of time to introduce your kids to boring European cinema and convoluted ploting of overrated directors. Now let her enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the latest hit songs being sung in a chipmunk voice.

    It's craptastic!

  3. I actually sort-of liked the first one. Overbroad and not very clever, but not without its charm, as I said.

    And I kind of like the Chipmunks version of "Bad Day" better than the original.

    But this was hard on the eyes, ears and brain.

  4. How funny. My husband took our 4-yr old son to see it a few weeks ago. He (our son) enjoyed it, but hasn't mentioned it since, so it wasn't a real winner.

  5. OT: Blake, don't know if you're still a Dexter fan, but I just found out about this:

    Dexter actor Michael C. Hall revealed Wednesday he has been battling cancer, but said he’s almost finished with treatment and the disease is in remission.


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