Movies In My Collection #176: In Defense Of… Alvin & The Chipmunks

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The first In Defense Of… I ever did was for the first Transformers movie, I went as far as to say that it was heavily flawed but still enjoyable unlike the sequels that followed. The same can also be said for the first Alvin & The Chipmunks movie:

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Alvin and the Chipmunks is a 2007 American live-action/computer animated musical comedy film directed by Tim Hill. Based on the characters of the same name created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., the film stars Jason Lee, David Cross, and Cameron Richardson with the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney.

It was released worldwide on December 14, 2007 by 20th Century Fox and produced by Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises and Bagdasarian Company. Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed $217 million in North America and $361 million at the box office worldwide on a budget of $60 million and was the seventh-best-selling DVD of 2008, earning over $101 million.

The first film in the film series, Alvin and the Chipmunks was followed by three sequels: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, released on December 23, 2009, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, released on December 16, 2011 and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, released on December 18, 2015.

In a tree farm, three musically inclined chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, find their tree cut down and sent to Los Angeles. Once there, they meet the frustrated songwriter David Seville, and despite a poor house wrecking first impression, they impress him with their singing talent. Seeing the opportunity for success, both human and chipmunks make a pact for them to sing his songs. While that ambition proves a frustrating struggle with the difficult trio, the dream does come true after all. However, that success presents its own trials as their unscrupulous record executive, Ian Hawke, plans to break up this family to exploit the boys. Can Dave and the Chipmunks discover what they really value amid the superficial glamor around them?

Now I know what you are thinking and you’re right, the live-action Alvin & The Chipmunks movies are not very good at all and if you’re going to watch one really good Chipmunks movie, you’ve gotta go back to The Chipmunk Adventure to find the real gem of these films and that was back in the 80s.

But let me explain why I am cutting the first live-action film some slack.

For one thing, at least this movie manages to try to follow up in the original story of how the Chipmunks came into Dave Seville’s life and that’s at least more than you can for other adaptations of TV shows that this one at least sticks to the story originally set up by the original source material, for the most part.

The overall story itself does manage to keep it plain and simple, while the film is very clichéd riddled in terms of how the plot goes, it does stick to a simple storyline never really progessing into all out insanity like the sequels would do later on.

The acting is fine, David Cross is the only real actor in this whose actually having fun with his role and at least in this movie, he’s the best thing about the film. The casting of the Chipmunks is kind of pointless, I think it would’ve been perfectly fine if you got Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman to reprise the roles of the Chipmunks, heck in the original teaser for this film, it’s them reprising the roles:

Heck, Bagdasarian himself has a cameo in the movie, you had it all set up perfectly but nope, Fox had to come in and say “we need celebrities to fill out the poster” so instead of saving money by keeping people you had already, they went with Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds, and Jesse McCartney and even then the biggest star is Justin Long but he wasn’t even that popular of a leading draw back then to begin with, not to mention, none of the marketing even mentioned the three so hiring these three to play the Chipmunks was completely pointless…but not as much as the sequels were but I’ll delve into those a little later on.

As far as the music goes, they at least kept Bagdasarian and Karman to do the songs and they still do work well together enough to appreciate the soundtrack more if you’re a fan of the Chipmunks’ music. I also did like that during the end credits, they showed off the Chipmunks’ record covers to show off the history of the trio since their 1958 inception.

With all that said, the rest of the casting is pretty mediocre. Jason Lee as Dave is kind of a bore, it’s hard not to watch Lee in this and not think of him as Earl from My Name Is Earl and he really looks like he does not want to be in these films, with every continuing film it feels that way, at least in this one, he’s trying but he’s not acting like Dave at all and Cameron Richardson in this movie who plays his love interest, she’s completely pointless, she has no character development at all and we’re suppose to feel for her because she’s the plain love interest and that’s about it.

The jokes in this are pretty lame and there’s very rarely a good joke, heck, the raisin joke from the trailer was actually funnier than it was in the actual movie. Again, only when David Cross shows up on screen is where you get the most chuckles because you can see how much he’s into the role.

Overall, the movie isn’t as bad as most people make it out to be, it’s just forgettable. You can watch it on TV when it replays on Cartoon Network or Discovery Family and be like “hey, this isn’t too bad” but there’s nothing about it that stands out well at all.

It’s at least watchable which is more than you can say about the sequels because wow, these sequels keep taking a step down in quality with each film. The Squeakquel, I admit I did like at first, but with repeat viewing came to the realization that yeah, this is pretty bad. The story makes no sense, the Chipettes are in this with no reasoning why Christina Applegate, Anna Faris, and Amy Poehler are doing the voices for it, and there’s no reason for this to exist except the first movie made tons of money. Chipwrecked is a trainwreck with another story that makes no sense, pointless character changes, lame comedy, and it’s just another massive failure and The Road Chip has to be the worst one because the only reason it was even made was to combat Star Wars because Lucas took it to Disney and Fox put out the only thing it’s got left and that was The Chipmunks, there is NOTHING to work with here, this movie is what the Fox studio execs thinks dumb kids will like and it’s trying to hard to be relevant and failing on all levels, no effort at all was put in to make this nothing more than a cashgrab. That’s what this whole series has essentially become, cashgrabs, they should just change the title from Alvin & The Chipmunks to Alvin & The Cashgrabs because that’s what these sequels are…AND STOP PUTTING CHIP IN THE TITLES FOR EACH SEQUEL DAMMIT!!!!

So, yeah, I don’t like the sequels to Alvin & The Chipmunks, if you’re going to watch any Alvin & The Chipmunks movie…again, go watch The Chipmunk Adventure but if you want to watch the newer ones, stop at the first one and call it a day.

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