ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED!
** (out of 5)
December 16, 2011
Jason Lee as DAVE
David Cross as IAN
Jenny Slate as ZOE
Justin Long as ALVIN
Matthew Gray Gubler as SIMON
Jesse McCartney as THEODORE
Amy Poehler as ELEANOR
Anna Faris as JEANETTE
Christina Applegate as BRITTANY
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows that I don’t always agree with the conventional wisdom of critics. Sure, I head praise on some movies like the rest of the industry does, but there are plenty of times that I break with the overbearing opinion. The “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies have been great examples of that.
When the first film came out four years ago, it was panned by critics. However, I saw it with my kids (ages 4 and 6 at the time), and it was as much fun watching them enjoy it as it was watching the movie. It was a true family experience in our home, and we have continued to enjoy it. While the sequel – or rather The Squeakquel – wasn’t as fun as the first film, it was similarly enjoyable to watch as a family.
Maybe it’s because my oldest (whom I took to the screening of this movie) is now ten years old. Maybe it’s just that with the third film, things have gotten a bit tired. Whatever the case, my patience for the Chipmunks has worn a bit thin.
This movie sees Dave (Jason Lee) taking the Chipmunks and the Chipettes on a tropical cruise. However, a series of shenanigans on deck leads the little rodents to fly overboard on a rogue kite. Dave leaps onto a hang glider with Ian (David Cross) – whose career has gone from high-powered record producer to Carnival Cruise mascot – in tow. All eight of them end up stranded on a tropical island and must escape before an erupting volcano wipes them out.
On one hand, I applaud the makers of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked!” for actually doing something a little bit different with the franchise. It wasn’t just a retread of the record contract going horribly wrong that we saw in the first two films. And at least they didn’t result to a wacky time travel plot that seems to be the new black when it comes to sequels (see “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” and the upcoming “Men In Black III” for details on this).
However, the makers could have spent more time on the script, even for an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie. Things start off really rocky, playing like an extended, shameless advertisement for Carnival Cruise Lines. Scenes are just thrown together with no sense in the beginning, featuring the overused concept of a dance off along with Alvin sneaking into the casino. Even when we get to the action of the characters leaving the ship, unbelievably no one sees any of this happen.
Once they get to the island, we see some semblance of a story, but it’s weighted down by dated “Castaway” jokes. And I thought “Castaway” jokes were deemed too old when that Super Bowl ad aired back in 2007. At the very least, they should have made some “Lost” jokes… but even those would have been dated.
There’s also a nonsensical side-story with Simon taking the spotlight. It’s an unnecessary exercise but typical on sequels that struggle to find something for everyone to accomplish. Though poor Theodore gets nothing new. Sigh… the fat kids always get left behind.
Things actually pick up a bit in the third act, though it’s a case of too little too late to really enjoy the movie. It’s no big surprise that this franchise is suffering from serious squeakquelitis.
Still, the movie is making no attempt to attract an audience older than grade school with this film, considering it’s proudly carrying a G rating. Plus, it’s merciful 85-minute running time won’t make the parents suffer too much.