Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fun But Come On: Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Directed by Tim Hill
Released December 14, 2007

This might stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to my other theatrical movie choices at this time of year. All I can say is it was not my idea, but I did try to like it. To its credit, I laughed a bit, smiled some more, and only started dancing in my seat occasionally. The opening scene is amazing and sets a fun tone for the film. The chipmunks are, I suppose, adorable and that is all good and well. Jason Lee as the token non-chipmunk gives pretty much the driest performance of the year, and his "Alvinnnnnnnnnn!" royally sucks. Not having watched the TV series, I do not know the call's history, and the film does nothing to inform me. Sometimes he is just shouting when Alvin is a few feet away. David Cross is trying so hard to be the most villainous of all villains which is a bit much for a kid's movie. There is just no getting around the fact that this movie is devastatingly formulaic. Sure it is a kid's movie, but look at "Ratatouille" or "Bee Movie" recently. A good amount of adult-esque humor is inserted for all the parents and people like me who are dragged against their will, but sometimes the jokes seem a bit overtly sexual or just plain inappropriate for a PG film (at least it is not G, I suppose). The movie also suffers from a major unexplained element, something which many found problematic in "Bee Movie" but I think it is much more troubling here: how do the chipmunks talk? Does that mean all animals talk? With the exception of a quick joke at the end, it is just left unanswered. Again, this is a kid's movie, but it could have been a whole lot better.


Oscar chances: I have now seen 5 out of 12 of the eligible films for the Best Animated Feature category. This is much better than both "The Simpsons Movie" and "Beowulf", but both of those offer something that put them well ahead of this film (a popular TV series and some compelling animation technique, respectively). "Bee Movie" and "Ratatouille" are very likely, and then "Shrek the Third" with its previous two films having been nominated. And that is not even taking into consideration "Persepolis". There are usually only three slots. "Alvin" is out.

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