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|Alvin and the Chipmunks
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Tim Hill
scr Jon Vitti, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi
with Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch, Chris Classic, Beth Riesgraf, Veronica Alicino, Kevin Symons
voices Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney
release US 14.Dec.07,
07/US Fox 1h31
Meet and greet: Lee and the boys
(NB. I successfully
avoided part 2)
At least this film, based on classic characters, is bright and energetic, because it's otherwise condescending, corny and utterly unfunny.
Dave (Lee) works at an ad agency while trying to get his songwriting career off the ground, struggling even though his friend Ian (Cross) works at Jet Records. His hottie neighbour Claire thinks he's a bit sad. Then three chatterbox chipmunks--Alvin, Simon and Theodore (unrecognisably voiced by Long, Gubler and McCartney)--adopt him. When he discovers that they can sing, Ian takes notice and they become megastars. Of course, fame goes to their heads as Ian exploits them for all he can get. Can Dave bring them back to earth?
The Chipmunks were created by Ross Bagdasarian in 1958 as a novelty singing group and then cartoon characters. But since the sped-up vocal effect has been ripped off repeatedly since then, this film will feel unoriginal to anyone unfamiliar with the original act. It's more like yet another marketing ploy from a Hollywood studio to get us to buy Chipmunk dolls, records and DVDs, and everything about the film is shamelessly aimed at the kiddies. Although you'd have to be under 3 years old not to notice this fact.
From the appalling overacting (Lee must have suffered from eyebrow and grin muscle strain while filming) to the ludicrous action scenes, plus two gross-out jokes, this film is painful to watch. Perhaps the most annoying thing is the squeaky Chipmunk voices, which are unintelligible--we can understand a fraction of what they say and none of what they sing. That said, the animation effects are very good; the critters are rather cute and frisky, and interact fairly seamlessly with the human cast and settings.
But every attempt to make them hip and cool backfires, from the dire rap numbers to the overwrought plot. It's busy and silly enough to keep tiny children enthralled, but there's nothing at all for older kids or the poor adults who have to sit through it with them. Even the tired moral message is muddled. On the other hand, you'll probably want to buy a set of cute cuddly toys.
|Paul: "i watched the film thinking oh god here we go but i just had to watch it, not only did i enjoy it but i am going to buy the dvd when it comes out. who cares if the voices arent the same, look back to the old videos and yeah they were good at the time but they seem naff compaired to the films, the cartoons counded cheap, like your uncle on helium. the story i grant you isnt exactly the hardest of things to follow but its hardly going to be lord of the rings when its primarily aimed at children. i hope they make another one. i highly doubt they will, but if they do then ill be waiting in line for tickets." (8.Jan.08)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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