Alvin and the Chipmunks – DVD Review

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Available at Amazon.com

Cute little furry creatures becoming singing sensations can only occur in the 1980s. That is until DreamWorks started churning out animated movies for a new generation. But the characters in Shrek have nothing on those chipmunks named Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. Twenty years ago they made their mark in pop culture. Why they became popular in the first place is unexplainable. But like everything else in the 1980s those chipmunks are back in a brand new movie for a new generation of kids.

In the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, we meet Alvin (voice of Justin Long) and his brothers, Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), storing nuts in preparation for the coming winter. When their tree is cut down and loaded onto the back of a truck, the trio wind up in LA where they seek shelter with an unsuccessful songwriter called Dave (Jason Lee). And when he discovers their musical abilities, the trio are propelled to international stardom – but can worldwide fame bring true happiness?

The “stars” of the film are the chipmunks and you can’t really judge their acting because they are talking animals. But why did they decide to use somewhat famous actors to do the voices of the chipmunks? The voices are morphed so that you couldn’t really tell a difference if they used “no-name” actors instead. That being said, Jason Lee as Dave, did a decent job in his role. The same can be said of David Cross as the “villain”.

The story doesn’t really matter much since this is targeted towards kids, but the chipmunks have been “moderized” here. They turn into the “rapping chipmunks” rather than the “singing chipmunks”. There are some good “chipmunk” versions of some current popular songs in this film. There are also some minor lessons to be learned from this film.

Kids will enjoy the “singing animals”, but that is all Alvin and the Chipmunks will ever be. It’s an entertaining film for kids that don’t know any better. But it will be torture for their parents, who either wish these singing chipmunks were never brought back from the dead, or enjoyed the first incarnation so much that they automatically have to hate the remake of a “classic” in their eyes.

The video is given in both 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs, and 1.33:1 fullscreen color. The animation is pretty great and the chipmunks do look fantastic. There are no major problems to report here.

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound, or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either.

“Hitting the Harmony” Featurette – This runs 9 minutes and it’s all about the making of the soundtrack for this film. There is some interesting stuff in here, but nothing you should go out of your way to watch since it’s the usual “we’re the greatest” fluff piece.

“Chip-Chip-Hooray! Chipmunk History” Featurette – This runs 12 minutes and this is a pretty complete history on the chipmunks. We take a look back at the origins of the chipmunks, some adventures with the chipmunks, and even an interview with the creator’s son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. This is very informative and is actually worth checking out.

Kids will like this film, but they may not love it enough to wear out the DVD. Parents may be forced to buy it for their kids, but for everyone else it’s a rental at best. Nothing special, so if you happen to miss this one you won’t be disappointed.

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20th Century Fox presents Alvin and the Chipmunksr. Directed by Tim Hill. written by Jon Vitti, Will McRobb, and Chris Viscardi. Starring Jason Lee, David Cross, Justin Long. Running time: 82 minutes. Rated: PG. Released on DVD: April 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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