Friday, December 16, 2011

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked

Help!


For as long as the Chipmunks can be milked to draw in the holiday crowds, the sequels will never stop. After all, the digital templates are there and done up to be recycled countless of times, and the live action characters just jolly well need not be there for things to work. Pop hits between the films serve as the highlights for getting the munked treatment, and while they do sound cute initially, eventually this novelty will soon wear off. Director Mike Mitchell, who sounded the death knell for Shrek with his Shrek Forever After, happened to do the same for Alvin and the Chipmunks in coming up with something so uninspired and clearly going through the motion.

The first film as expected is the origin film, followed by the sequel which is more or less a mirror image of the first, except with the trio from the opposite sex known as the Chippettes. In the third film, with everyone - Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), Theodore (Jesse McCartney), Brittany (Christina Applegate), Jeanette (Anna Faris) and Eleanor (Amy Poehler) - all living under the same roof as Dave (Jason Lee) their surrogate dad/manager, you'd expect that perhaps things can get a wee bit more cerebral, but alas all we're getting is a rehash of characterization not already seen in the films, and done countless of times in their animated series.

Alvin is still being Alvin, Simon needs to chill and Theodore just needs to be cute. So goes for the Chippettes with vain Brittany, introverted Jeanette and Eleanor just makes a lot of clothes and costumes in this one, since they're all stuck in an unnamed island (in Hawaii on location so it seems). What was to be a family cruise vacation turned out to be an abandoned island adventure, with Ian (David Cross) the chipmunks' ex-manager and one time music executive on board as well as the nasty opposition (too weak to be called a villain or the antagonist), and Zoe (Jenny Slate), a woman stuck in the island for close to a decade, and exhibiting the very same signs of loneliness that Tom Hanks' Chuck Noland did in Cast Away, except that she has more friends other than Wilson.

Centering around the chipmunks' fight for survival amongst themselves and with Zoe, as well as Simon and Alvin's temporal transformation in character - one being French (don't ask) and more carefree while the other getting all serious and responsible, the story plays out like an extended cartoon episode, with Dave and Ian on a quest to try and rescue their cash cows before something untoward get to happen to them, which in the story, is zilch given a low threat situation, most of the time. Nothing spectacular gets to happen in the film, and it runs like on a plateau without any highs or lows, and soon you'll feel you may be better off looking at caged animals in a zoo.

Which is a bit frustrating because the story's written by both Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who were also responsible for what I felt were some of the more intelligent animated films in recent years with their Kung Fu Panda and its sequel, having the right elements balanced in terms of story, characters, comedy, action and entertainment for both the kids and accompanying adults alike, but this effort seemed to be written without much heart put into it to cater for the lowest common denominator, and it shows. Granted they also did stinkers like Monsters Vs Aliens, but when you set the bar higher, that's where you'll be benchmarked against, and that's where this proved to be a total Chip-Wreck.

Subsequent movies if they ever get made seemed to be destined for going straight to video. Skip this unless you have a fetish for chipmunk voices.

2 comments:

FilmMaster said...

You can give a fair judgement of these films sucking without watching them. I watched the first film and I don't want to suffer anymore. Great review!

Stefan S said...

Hi FilmMaster, I guess I'm a sucker for punishment!

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