Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What kind of jerk-off trashes ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’. I won’t, even though I can safely say I despised this film almost from its sugary filled start to its saccharine infested end. You see this film wasn’t made for me, it was made for the screaming brats that are surrounding me and by golly, they seemed to love it. Sure those clowns from Pixar and Aardman have found a way to make movies that children of all ages seem to enjoy, but making something that appeals to both an 8 year old and a 68 year old takes talent where as Alvin and them are safe in the knowledge that their target audience has only seen this particular incarnation of this story 10 times instead of a thousand times like those of us a little older have. But I’m not trashing it though.

Jason Lee plays Dave, a struggling song writer by night, but by day he puts the food on table as, you guessed it, an advertising executive. By far the most popular vocation for movie characters as long as movies have been around is Ad-man. I don’t know why. Dave knows the chief of the big record agency in Ian (David Cross), but Ian isn’t a very nice man and has nothing but disparaging things to say about Dave and his so called music. Dave also has an ex-girlfriend named Claire (Cameron Richardson) who broke up with Dave because he, I guess, shows up late to places a lot. At least that’s the reason I got. Things take a turn for Dave when three cute CGI chipmunks follow him home after their tree was cut down and placed in the lobby of the big record company as a Christmas Tree. Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) are three precocious young kids who first introduce themselves to Dave by eating his cheese puffs and giving him a closed head injury. Dave kicks them out of the house, and is not nearly as shocked at seeing talking chipmunks as he should be. However when Dave finds out not only can these chipmunks talk, but can also do three part harmony, now he’s ready to exploit them for all they’re worth. I’m sorry, ‘manage their careers’. Ian the evil record executive will do all the exploiting in this movie.

Dave writes that cursed ‘Chipmunk Song’ and Ian knows immediately that with the singing chipmunks he has something special here. So does the gub-ment who will eventually capture and dissect these things to find out how the hell they can talk, but that’s another movie. The sequel perhaps. Because there will be one. But all is not great you see because Dave has a problem opening up his heart and the chipmunks just want to be a family. Dave, you see, only views them as friends who can get him stupid paid… my bad, he sees them as friends who needs their ‘careers managed’. Ian seizes upon Dave’s reticence and convinces the chipmunks he loves them, and they move in with him and Ian sets about the business of exploitation for maximum dollarage. Dave now realizes how much he loves his chipmunks and wants them back. Plus Ian is working them like 25 cent slaves, forcing the poor kids to sing bad hip-hop. Will Dave find a way to reunite with Alvin and them? And get his girl back? Well you know I’m not going to spoil the surprise for you.

Alvin, Theodore and that other one are as timeless as timeless gets, spanning six decades, numerous albums, TV shows, animated movies comic books and more. A Franchise if ever there was one. This movie will do nothing to slow that franchise down because it delivers what I’m assuming fans of Alvin and them have been wanting for decades: Worthless, forgettable, but ultimately harmless entertainment. But I’m not trashing that. The CGI team has created a trio of cute decently animated chipmunks who did manage to squeeze the occasional chuckle out of me, no matter how hard I tried to be curmudgeonly and not laugh. Jason Lee should graciously thank whoever thought to cast him in this movie because they could have hired any warm body to play straight man to three cute Chipmunks, since Lee didn’t contribute any of his signature humor to the role of Dave. But as the sequels kick in those checks will just keep getting fatter. David Cross is pretty funny as the evil record executive, and I will say it is amusing, with as many corporate tie-ins and product placements as ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ had, to have a message railing against corporate exploitation.

There’s really nothing wrong with this movie, other than the fact I didn’t like it. But I’m not trashing it though, I’m just saying if there was someway you could palm the task of taking your kids to see this movie off on their grandparents, I would do that. Grandparents like doing stuff like that. That’s all I’m saying.

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