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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)

Starring:

Amy Poehler

Anna FarisAnna Faris

Christina ApplegateChristina Applegate

David Cross

Jason LeeJason Lee

Jesse McCartney

Justin Long

Matthew Gray Gubler

Wendie Malick

Zachary Levi

Directed by:

Betty Thomas

Rating: 4/10

Like most of the children of my generation, I was a fan of The Chipmunks back in the day. I’ll even admit that I owned a record or two of theirs, the most notable being “Urban Chipmunk,” a fun little riff in the 80s that had Alvin and his brothers going country. As an adult, however, I’ve managed to avoid those squeaky-voiced entertainers except for the occasional Christmas song about hula hoops—until now—and while this sequel (I can’t say “Squeakquel” and you can’t make me) is no cinematic masterpiece, it will entertain the kiddie audience for whom it is intended.

We start off with Alvin, Simon, and Theodore in concert at the top of their game, singing their squeaky hits and rocking away on their tiny little instruments. Then Alvin—of course—acts up, leading to the wounding of the rodents’ “dad” David Seville (Jason Lee) and their subsequent temporary relocation to the home of Dave’s cousin Toby (Zachary Levi). It also means they have to go to school (bullies abound, and somehow Alvin makes the football team), and eventually there’s a talent contest—not to mention three new singing chipmunks who just happen to be girl Chipettes being managed by the evil Ian (David Cross). Things happen, there are some fights, people make up, songs are sung, and all is right in the end.

As a critic, films like this one are sometimes hard to review. Obviously, this is no Hurt Locker, but it’s also no Up or Fantastic Mr. Fox. What it is happens to be a film aimed squarely in the faces of children 11 and under, with no subtle undertones or clever humor. It’s “what you see is what you get” moviemaking, and it’s meant to make a lot of money and entertain kids. Not change their lives or offer them spiritual growth—entertain them. To that end, it does exactly that—kids were yukking it up in the theater, even when adults were cringing at the lameness. My biggest complaint is more of a question—why use such a talent-filled voice cast (Amy Poehler, Justin Long, Anna Faris, etc.) when there’s no real distinction in any of the voices, and really, the performances could’ve come from me or the guy next door and no one would know the difference? As a film, though, it’s a silly little piece of fluffy fur that wasn’t meant for us … and that’s ok. Sometimes kids need distractions, too, and while it’s little more than an excuse to sell merchandise, it’s harmless.

It's Got: David Cross, goofy kid humor, pretty decent CGI

It Needs: More distinct voices, an audience full of kids, not to have another installment

Alternatives:

Alvin and the Chipmunks, G-Force, The Brady Bunch Movie

Summary

Definitely no Oscar contender — and not really even a great kids movie — it’s still worth it if you can see a cheap show because your kids will laugh, even if you’re bored silly.

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