When Dave (Jason Lee) puts his foot down and throws Alvin, Simon, and Theodore out of his house, the chipmunks respond, “But we talk.” Wittily, the film is asking audiences to take its premise at face value, and because Dave sees the chipmunks as children, it only makes sense that he doesn’t question their knowledge of Christmas and television but doubts Simon’s understanding of an investment portfolio once the boys become singing sensations. Points, then, for consistency, though there is no forgiving how the compositions, as in Garfield: The Movie and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, are so dispiritingly static, mindful of the space the CGI chipmunks will fill in post-production but largely neglectful of the human actors who all show signs of anguish over having to talk to and chase after empty space. But unlike those abominable Garfield movies, this big-screen adaptation of the cartoon series from 1980s of the same name is intermittently cute, though never when Dave is screaming out Alvin’s name—a concession to the original show that never makes sense here because Simon and Theodore are just as badly behaved as their brother. Hum-drum but family-friendly, the movie sees the commitment-phobic Dave’s struggle to define his relationship to Alvin, Simon, and Theodore seriously put to the test after the boys fall into the hands of the evil music executive (an overzealous David Cross) who encourages the chipmunks to lip-sync after their world tour puts a strain on their voices. Replace Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, then, with pint-sized versions of Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, and the surviving member of Milli Vanilli and you may even appreciate it as a music-industry satire. It’s not a demanding proposition, but after The Golden Compass, Alvin and the Chipmunks feels like rocket science.
- Tim Hill
- John Vitti, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi
- Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney
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