Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Alvin and the Chipmunks

So Cute!

"Alvin, Simon, Theodore! Dood, dood, doodoodoodood! Dood, dood, doodoodoodood!"

Or at least that's how the theme song of the cartoon series sounded like, dug out from my subconscious. For those, like me, who have grown up in the 80s watching television cartoons like Mask, Transformers, He-Man, there are those which are less action based, such as Peanuts, and of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks, featuring the trio of Alvin, the de-facto ringleader, Simon the smart one (hence the cliche glasses) and the greedy Theodore.

With cartoons from the past being remade into feature length movies, such as Scooby Doo and Garfield, yielding mixed box office results, what about these 3? To begin with, this is not quite like the cartoon series, in that the chipmunks are sized correctly, as with the other adaptations (no more handgun transforming to 50 foot robot), and curiously enough, they didn't need their body length clothes to hide their modesty, just a top coloured in the right way will do. And for Alvin, all is forgiven when the filmmakers finally remembered he sported a cap. Having effects wizardry helped to in bringing to life the trio of chipmunks, down to the last furry detail such as their hairdo.

Those of us who have grown up with the series, will find multiple shades of storylines adapted from the cartoons all meshed into one here. It's a reworked origin story of sorts, so as to bring in a new legion of followers who haven't seen the series on television. Created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr almost 50 years ago, to have the characters translate to the big screen, bode well for its longevity, at least from the reaction I got from the kids, they are in love with the singing trio with all the clapping and the dancing along the aisle (yes!) each time they perform in their high pitched voices. I too was tempted to applaud, but that would be too geeky-like for those moments I became a kid again.

Jason Lee stars as Dave Seville, the "father" of our singing sensation, who finds it a little difficult in trying to warm up to the notion of being family with animals. Having started off the wrong foot, it provided ample opportunity for that iconic scream "Aaaalviiiiinnnnnnn!!!", as he finds himself out of a career and with 3 extra mouths to feed. But as rehashed scenes and storyline goes, the Chipmunks soon prove to be taking the USA by storm with their brand of oh-so-cute voices and slick dance moves, that they become superstars in their own right.

You'll know the drill from here, as dodgy music label producer Ian (David Cross) tries to undermine Dave to pry the cash-cows (heh) from the latter using despicable tactics, giving rise to being the sole adversary with the evil corporation type who's out to exploit and milk the chipmunks for what they're worth. Being a family friendly film, the theme of belonging and err, blood running thicker than water and profits, ring through, though I thought to toddlers, that might not actually matter, but to the parents bringing them to the theatre, then it's a reminder that children do appreciate being loved and having that pat on the back.

Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney provided the voices for our lovable chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore respectively, though that didn't really matter in the final end product given that their voices had to be sped up to achieve that chipmunk effect. In fact, you and I could also be reading the lines, and applying the same technique to become chipmunks ourselves. And amongst the three, I dare say Theodore will win new fans in the very manja way it got portrayed. A key scene from the trailer had been reworked, so don't be surprised if you see that deviation - though for once, I thought the trailer version was better and closer to character.

Like the movie says, "they're talking chipmunks!" so I feel that given the holiday season, and the tie-in with the movie to the season of good tidings, it may actually bode well for the film. There may be nothing truly new in the antics of the chipmunks, but they will probably still charm your socks off. So before you roll your eyes at yet another talking-animal film, give this one a chance, and I'm quite certain you'll be tapping your feet at the right moments too!

So hit it again, Alvin, Simon, Theodore! And watch those plush merchandise fly off the shelves in time for X'mas! Stay tuned during the end credit roll which showcased some of the album art from their musical albums of the past.

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