As a child I remember watching the Chipmunks on television. I think everyone can identify with at least one of the characters a little. Their songs are catchy and cute. And although one would normally be put off by high pitched nasal voices, they’re actually quite endearing coming from the Chipmunks. So I have to admit that I have a slight predisposition to enjoy these movies, regardless of how silly they are. So the question is, did I enjoy this one?
Directed by Mike Mitchell, the third film takes the Chipmunks on a cruise vacation before an international music awards show that they’re supposed to be on. The plot of this movie is fairly simple. Dave (Jason Lee) is taking Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler), Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney), Brittany (voiced by Christina Applegate), Jeanette (voiced by Anna Faris), and Eleanor (voiced by Amy Poehler) onto the Carnival Dream, a large Carnival cruise liner.
Alvin is his typical get-into-trouble self. He pushes Dave too far every chance he can get. Of course Dave is one of those overbearing parents who are a bit too strict sometimes, but every time he tries to be less strict and give the Chipmunks and the Chipettes some more responsibility and trust, he’s left picking up the mess that is left behind.
To sum the plot of this movie up in a few sentences, the Chipmunks and Chipettes while playing onboard the cruise ship find themselves drifting away in a hang glider and become adrift on a remote island. Dave, and Ian (David Cross), the character from the first two movies who was first the Chipmunks’ agent, and then the Chipettes’ agent go after them and become marooned on the same island as well, only separated from them.
So what works and what doesn’t? Well, the music is catchy and current so it sounds good. The Chipmunks and Chipettes put their own spin on current hit songs from Lady Gaga, LMFAO, and Katy Perry, among others.
The digital animation for the characters works well. Real life characters interact with their digital counterparts well and it allows for believable scenes when they’re all on screen together.
My favorite character in the film is Ian. David Cross is funny and I think he gets most of the best lines. It’s dry humor, and not all of it works, but considering most of it is over the top and it still doesn’t feel it in this setting, that’s a good thing.
The plot? Well, get passed that one. It’s a Chipmunks movie and you’re not going to get Oscar caliber screenwriting. There’s enough to keep your attention and not make you feel stupid. It’s a fun movie and that’s what it’s trying to be.
The biggest issue I have with all of the Chipmunk’s movies is why the producers have such star power voicing the characters when you cannot tell that actors you know are the voices. They’re digitally altered so much to sound like the characters in the television programs that I used to watch that any subtle nuances each actor could add is removed in the process. Is it a bad thing? No. But they could probably save some money if they didn’t used well-known actors.
The fact that most everyone knows of Alvin and the Chipmunks will mean a virtually guaranteed success for this film. It’s cute, funny, and mindless fun that will entertain you. It’s not as bad as it could’ve been. But let’s hope that when they’re back for the fourth (and I’ll bet you they will be) that the producers spend a little more time on the plot and character development so that adults walk out equally as happy as their kids do.
FINAL GRADE: B -
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres