Between the end of the original 80s Chipmunks TV series and the 2007 live-action movies, The Chipmunks went through various rights holders, Disney had the rights to the series for home distribution on VHS in the early 90s, Warner Bros. held the rights to air the television series in syndication, and Universal obtained the rights to the characters starting in 1996 which officially began with the video release of The Chipmunk Adventure in 1997 and then two years later, hoping to add a new franchise to their growing animated direct-to-video feature library, we got the first of two Alvin & The Chipmunks made-for-video movies with Alvin & The Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein:
While the Chipmunks are working at the amusement park, Majestic Movie Studios, in a singing attraction. Little do they know that the real Dr. Frankenstein are in a new attraction called, “Frankenstein’s Castle”. After Alvin drives a crazy bus ride, they miss their next performance and get locked in the park after closing time. Dr. Frankenstein figures that the castle isn’t scary enough and re-creates the real Frankenstein and after the monster finds the boys, it starts a wild and wacky adventure!
If you ever loved the original Alvin & The Chipmunks cartoon from the 80s, you pretty much get everything you got from the series here as well, the twist of course being that Frankenstein now exists in the Chipmunk universe…I guess? The film and its’ sequel are obviously parodies of the Abbott & Costello monster crossovers they did back in the day.
But okay, let’s dissect some of the best aspects in this movie and some of the worst aspects.
On the positives, like I said, it’s the same Alvin & The Chipmunks from the classic cartoons. they aren’t being modernized for the kids of today, they aren’t doing topical jokes or targeting down to the miniscule level of what’s relevant or popular at the time, and more importantly, it doesn’t do a complete raping of everything the franchise has been known for unlike those godawful movies that Fox has given us.
But then again, there’s not that much the movie does that excels, which isn’t a bad thing, the movie itself is completely harmless, it’s a fun movie based off a bizarre idea to have Frankenstein meet Alvin & The Chipmunks, though to be fair, the next movie is maybe more bizarre but we’ll delve into that next week.
And what about the negatives, for one thing, the story makes no sense whatsoever. The film opens with a black and white sequence where the doctor and his Frankenstein monster are being chased out by villagers so it’s safe to assume that part takes place in the timeperiod of the original Frankenstein film in the 1810s, that’s fine…what’s not fine is when they show the doctor in 1999 California arriving at the theme park with his monster….so, wait, is the doctor in this a highlander? Before he left the village, did he kill the last highlander to live forever because as we all know, there can be only one? And by the way, what town is this? Is this like the town from The Village? Are these people just living in the same timeperiod while the rest of the world has aged with time because they are afraid of a red monster living out in the woods? It makes no sense how this works out and what’s worse, the film never explains how this is even possible, you’re just suppose to go along with it and while that could work for any other film, here, you need to explain how this whole thing works because none of it makes any sense.
Plus you want to talk about a Saturday morning cartoonishly evil bad guy, the doctor in this is clearly that. Nearly every single line in this movie is something sinister or evil coming out of this guy, he’s literally talking to people and asking them do you have kidneys or are you an organ donor? How the hell does nobody realize that this guy is clearly evil?
By the way, the animation in this can be a little off to say the least, for some reason, Dave in this movie looks too much like John Stamos from Full House, he literally looks Uncle Jesse from Full House. Granted, there are some nice touches to the animation like there’s a great bit where the Chipmunks are on this roller coaster and as the car keeps going faster and faster, they resort back to their older renditions like the original 50s chipmunks and then the 60s chipmunks, that was kind of amusing.
I mean, overall, Alvin & The Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein is about as harmless as you can get, there’s nothing really about it that’s offensively bad but it does have a big problem with its’ antagonist and its’ story structure and the animation is very hit and miss. Other than that, it’s fun to watch around Halloween with the kids, not a great film but certainly not the worst film the Chipmunks have been involved with.
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