Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked Directed by: Mike Mitchell Cast: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate Running Time: 1 hr 30 min Rating: G Release Date: December 16, 2011
PLOT: When Dave (Lee) takes the Chipmunks and Chipettes on a cruise, Alvin acts up and gets everybody chip... ahem, shipwrecked.
WHO'S IT FOR? Kids, probably about four to ten, would like it best.
EXPECTATIONS: Two years ago I reviewed Alvin and the Chipmunks:The Squeakquel and gave it a 2. So low.
ACTORS: Jason Lee as Dave: Lee does a third turn as Dave Seville, a man who chooses to adopt singing chipmunks rather than going the more normal route of marrying and having children. His avant-garde lifestyle involves squiring underage chipmunks to various events. As in the last film, Dave spends most of the film separated from his charges. He's not in traction this time, but instead he's looking for Alvin and crew with the help of Ian (Cross), now a malevolent mascot on the ship. Lee tries, but the part of Dave hasn't gotten any more likable. He's kind of a weirdo who spends a lot of time yelling at a rodent. Score: 4
David Cross as Ian: After losing his clients in the Squeakquel, Ian's no longer a record executive but working as a Pelican mascot for Carnival Cruise lines. Coincidentally, he's on the same cruise as Dave and the Chipmunks and spends a lot of his time being creepy in the suit (which made me laugh, I admit). Cross seems more relaxed, acting with an actual person rather than animated creatures. At times I began to see that keeping the Chipmunks, particularly Alvin, in a cage might not have been a bad idea. Score: 4
Jenny Slate as Zoe: She may be an adult, but she's no role-model. Zoe's fun and a little off her rocker, she manages to out-Alvin Alvin without being annoying about it. She's a little bit Tom Hanks in Castaway (her friends include Spalding and Calloway) and a little bit manic pixie dream girl gone bad. Slate's best known for dropping the f-bomb on her first episode of SNL, but here she's charming and easily the best part of the movie. Score: 6
TALKING: The script is a bit hit or miss, there are more jokes that made my eyes role than made me laugh. The kids in the audience didn't seem any more interested in the "jokes," though they did seem to be interested in the film. Speaking of voices, I'm surprised that the film shells out for stars like Justin Long and Amy Poehler to voice the Chipmunks since their voices come out unrecognizable in the end. The one person who may be worth the money (though he's not really a big name) is Alan Tudyk who plays Simon's adventurous French alter ego, Simone. Score: 4
SIGHTS: The first twenty minutes of the film play like an ad for Carnival Cruise Lines, which is weird because all the main characters go overboard and almost die. Wouldn't think they'd want to be associated with that. The scenery on the island looks a bit diverse for an place that's supposed to be so small. Rivers, waterfalls, canyons, this place has it all. Oh, and also a volcano (this may come in handy later). Score: 3
SOUNDS: The song selection is pretty par for the course ... Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Willow Smith. Also LMFAO, which maybe isn't appropriate. All are sped-up and chipmunk-ified. I'm over it, but again, the kids in the theater seemed to like it. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: When Zoe introduces the Chipmunks to her "friends" a group of balls with faces painted on them reminiscent of Wilson from Castaway. When English speaking chipmunks look down on you, that's definitely a bad sign.
ENDING: Yes, it ends! I mean, the film ends in a more or less appropriate manner. The whole volcano episode was kind of unnecessary, as was Zoe's weird transformation into a crazy treasure hunter. But then there's an "everything is all better again" finale, which actually doesn't include Zoe. Apparently Ian has redeemed himself sufficiently to deserve a happy ending.
QUESTIONS: It's really pointless to ask questions. Why are singing chipmunks who are also huge pop stars not mobbed everywhere they go? How come more people don't recognize them? If they're on an island with an erupting volcano, wouldn't there be a million scientists recording the event who might see the castaways? These are only the most pressing ones.
REWATCHABILITY: I could get through it once, not again.
Don't get me wrong here, Alvin and the Chipumunks: Chipwrecked is not a good movie. The plot is silly, the characters have very little development, the ending is pretty much a foregone conclusion. But it is preferable to the cinematic abortion that was The Squeakquel. I also think it's superior to the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. This year, there are some really good films to take kids to such as The Muppets and Hugo, that adults will enjoy too. But if you have a kid who insists on going to this movie, don't despair. It's not horrible and you may actually enjoy it for a few moments even if you're secretly wondering why the chipmunks insist on singing "Party Rock Anthem." Don't the Kia Gerbils already own that one?
FINAL SCORE: 4/10