Alvin And The Chipmunks
Review by Jack Foley
PAST attempts by Hollywood to revive popular animated children’s favourites from around the ’60s – such as The Flinstones and Scooby-Do – in live action form have usually met with disastrous results in terms of quality.
Alvin & The Chipmunks, based on the five-time Grammy Award-winning animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr in 1958 and their subsequent TV show, fares slightly better – but only marginally so.
The film follows the fortunes of three talking chipmunks – Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) – as they make their way to LA and hook up with struggling songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee).
Despite reducing his house to a permanent mess and costing him his job, the chipmunks’ singing ability lands Dave a shot at the big time and (after composing The Chipmunk Song) the furry trio are signed to a top label run by Dave’s unscrupulous friend Ian Hawke (David Cross).
But as the pressures of success begin to take their toll and Ian seeks to set up a huge world tour, the chipmunks come to yearn for a simpler way of life and pine for a return to the family values instilled by the now absent Dave.
Tim Hill’s film begins sweetly enough as Jason Lee’s amiable Dave attempts to get to grips with the chipmunks’ presence but it’s about 45 minutes too long and quickly becomes irritating.
The story is wafer thin and painfully predictable, while the acting is often out of sync with the CG effects. The chipmunks themselves are cute enough, even though the CGI isn’t as effective as the hand-drawn originals, but by attempting to come over all hip and contemporary the film sacrifices too many of its traditional values.
It’s not helped, either, by a second half that’s dominated by David Cross’s over the top record producer and his attempts to exploit the chipmunks, while Dave gets pushed to the sidelines. Or a set of pop songs that are every bit as painful as listening to the Crazy Frog LP a few years back!
Come the contrived ending and the equally predictable dollop of syrup, older members of the audience will have been driven nuts!
Running time: 91mins
UK DVD Release: April 14, 2008