Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Somebody call an exterminator!
As the credits rolled for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, I found myself growing a little frightened.
It wasn’t because the continuation of that epic saga involving a trio of high-pitched rodents who form a rock band was scary — though I’ve always been a little uneasy around animals wearing clothes. I was frightened because of the fact I found Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel to not be that bad of a film.
Don’t misunderstand me. Alvin 2 is not a great film. It’s not even that good of a film. In a world where Old Dogs and Baby Geniuses 2 exist, though, I didn’t think Alvin 2 was as mind-numbingly awful as it could have been.
I did not see the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie but I did grow up during Chipmunks’ Saturday morning cartoon revival in the ‘80s so I am familiar with the basic concept of the series.
A trio of Chipmunk brothers moonlight as rock and roll musicians — under the watchful eye of Dave, an accident-prone stick in the mud played by Jason Lee. Although Dave refers to himself as the chipmunks’ father, I highly doubt the grown man bumped bathing suit areas with a small woodland creature so I’m going to assume that the ‘munks were adopted.
Either way, Dave is the rockers’ legal guardian until he suffers a debilitating accident during a performance in Paris. Recovering in a French hospital, Dave turns to his extended family to watch his “boys” while he recovers.
Through a further series of slapstick-heavy accidents, the chipmunks find themselves in the care of Toby, Dave’s video game-obsessed slacker cousin played by Zachary Levi (Chuck).
Insisting the chipmunks get a real childhood, Dave demands his furry little children enroll in the local high school. Because this is a children’s movie apparently taking place on an alternate reality where anthropomorphic animals are commonplace, none of the school’s students bat an eye at the thought of three tiny rodents wearing hoodies and attending their campus.
This acceptance of the chipmunks makes it easier, then, when a trio of female chipmunks begins attending the same school.
The new batch of talking rodents go by the name The Chipettes and are a rival musical group managed by Ian, a slimy record producer who was apparently a bad guy in the first film. David Cross plays Ian with full gusto — showing that the comedian, who has previously savagely mocked actors for the bad films that make, is certainly not above making himself look like a fool for a paycheck.
Alvin 2 is a silly movie designed almost solely for the enjoyment of children. There are wacky mishaps, plenty of squeaky renditions of pop standards and enough tame borderline-double entendre to keep parents from completely nodding off during the movie.
There is nothing offensively bad about the film but as a whole the picture suffers from terminal blandness. The plot is a repetition of a dozen other high school comedies — with the only difference being that the central characters could fit in somebody’s pocket.
The one thing that puzzles me about the film, though, is why the producers would spring for the money to hire big(ish) name actors for the voices of the Chipmunks and Chipettes.
Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate are all but unrecognizable in their roles as helium-voiced rodents. You would think that the film’s producers would have chosen to save the money that went towards paying the actors’ salaries and hired some amateur voice-over artists. They could have then spent the difference on enhancing the films’ computer effects — which seem a bit rushed and shoddy at times.
The film comes available on a Blu-ray packaged with a DVD and digital copies of the film — so you can take your chipmunks with you wherever you go. The film also comes complete with a wide variety of special features — something I never quite understood. There are few children who would sit through a documentary featurette about the making of the movie and few adults who would seek to own the movie. Who are the special features for?
I can’t fault any child who may find enjoyment in Alvin 2. If I was a kid who had spent my short time on Earth eating nothing but paint chips, I might have loved the film too. As it is, though, I could certainly tolerate it and, in a world where truly bad movie are inflicted upon audiences on a weekly basis, toleration is good enough for me.
Robert Saucedo still fondly half-remembers the animated Chipmunks movie from his youth. Didn’t it have a baby penguin in it or something? Follow him on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.