Sunday, January 24, 2010

2009 Spillover: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Directed by Betty Thomas
Released December 23, 2009

The title is pretty creative; there isn’t much debating that. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t have much more to offer than a fun name. Most of its cuteness was exerted in the first film, and this is very much more of the same. This film does adhere to one of the cardinal rules of sequels, however, which can be a good or bad thing depending upon the situation. If something works, get more of it. In this case, three singing chipmunks worked well for the $200 million grossing first film. What’s the next logical step? Singing female chipmunks, of course.

Adding a whole new slew of chipmunks to the party is probably the smartest thing this franchise could have done, because it enhances the adorability factor all around and gives the chipmunks something to do other than to cause trouble for their good buddy Dave. What’s even more entertaining and endearing is that the female chipmunks are huge admirers of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. They do yearn to achieve the same celebrity status as them, but more importantly, they just want to meet the legends and get their autographs. That’s all fine, but there’s nothing in this story for adults – it’s still just for kids.

What’s interesting about this film, and the franchise as a whole, since the third squeak probably isn’t far off, is that it seems to be a haven for TV actors looking for a side job or a post-show gig, depending on their current status. The first film starred Jason Lee, who was then the star of “My Name is Earl,” a show which has since been cancelled, and David Cross, fresh off of the end of “Arrested Development.” In this second installment, not one but two stars of currently airing TV shows join the cast. Kathryn Joosten, also known as Mrs. McCluskey on “Desperate Housewives,” appears briefly as Dave’s wheelchair-bound aunt, though a clumsy mishap quickly dispels her from the plot. The story then turns over to an unexpected actor to portray the temporary guardian for the chipmunks: Zachary Levi. The star of NBC’s “Chuck” plays a loser, which is a shame because he’s proven he’s capable of getting his life together and being cool on the show. It’s as if he’s taken a step backwards in his career, and it’s a puzzle to determine what he’s doing here. The same is true for any adults who end up seeing this film.


No comments: