December 11, 2007

Alvin and the Chipmunks

How to stay awake during Alvin and the Chipmunks...

Grade: C –
Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, and the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney
MPAA Rating:
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

It is difficult to argue that a movie about a trio of talking & singing chipmunks lacks internal logic. However, in the live-action/CGI hybrid update of Alvin and the Chipmunks, how is it exactly that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (voiced respectively by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney, although there is no way to tell) are inadvertently transplanted from their lifelong woodland home to the big city already equipped with an awareness of Christmas, the ability to operate sundry household gadgets, and a working knowledge of the lyrics to songs by Daniel Powter and Pussycat Dolls?

Brought to us by Tim Hill, director of Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties and writer for the small and big-screen versions of SpongeBob SquarePants (repeatedly referenced throughout the film), we already know the titular rodents’ harmonizing sparks the career of struggling songwriter Dave Seville, whom a live-action Jason Lee imbues with an Earl-esque idiocy. David Cross does his best to harvest a few laughs from this DOA script, but all his nefarious record producing character does is give Alvin & Friends another platform for vapid Diddy-lite ditties.

Novelty aside, the unfortunate truth is that the original Alvin and the Chipmunks had limited appeal and even less potential for long-term expansion. Moreover, aside from the obligatory fart/poop jokes and general ineptitude, the overarching problem is that the storyline hypocritically casts as its principal villain the very financial profiteering and hat-to-the-back, pop-cultural capitulation this film actually represents and embraces.

No comments: