Review of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked


Movie Review: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked"

--Rating: G (for all audiences)
Length: 87 minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" is the third installment in the CGI enhanced Alvin and the Chipmunks films. Jason Lee ("Cop Out," "My Name is Earl") takes a third turn as Dave, the Chipmunks' adopted father. In this installment, Dave takes Alvin (Justin Long, "Ten Year," "Lumpy"), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler, "Excision," "Magic Valley") and Theodore (Jesse McCartney, "Beware the Gonzo"), on a cruise with their female counterparts, the Chipettes. Eleanor (Amy Poehler, "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil"), Brittany (Christina Applegate, "Hall Pass," "Going the Distance") and Jeanette (Anna Faris, "Yogi Bear," "Mama's Boy") enter the film with their usual singing and dancing, and looking fabulous.

Of course, where Alvin, Simon and Theodore go chaos follows, and their hyperactive insanity soon causes the trio and their three furry girlfriends to wind up overboard, where they're eventually stranded in a tropical paradise. They later find out that their deserted island isn't as deserted as it seems.

With Dave frantically trying to save his boys from themselves once again, the Chipmunks and their lady friends encounter a pretty but unbalanced woman who's been on the island alone for a while. An erupting volcano makes the paradise not as pretty as they first thought, and they must escape before it consumes them all.

Mike Mitchell ("Shrek Forever After," "Sky High") does a fantastic job in directing the real life components of this film. Jason Lee will forever be the only possible actor to portray "Dave" for Chipmunks' fans young and old. Newcomer to the films, Jenny Slate, ("Dr. Zeuss' The Lorax," "This Means War") portrays the delusional Zoe with a perfect combination of cuteness and comedy. Her depiction of a slightly insane young woman dealing with singing and dancing chipmunks is hilarious.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" also adds a little intrigue to the Chipmunks franchise when Simone (Alan Tudyk, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"), Simon's suave and debonair alter ego makes an appearance in this film. He appears after Simon is bitten by a spider. Simone is brought out of Simon's subconscious by a neurotoxin transmitted by the spider. Sounds serious, but it adds some comic relief to Simon's usually dull character. Viewers will likely anticipate Simon's return in future sequels.

David Cross ("Megamind," "The Legend of Secret Pass") returns in the film as the Chipmunks' nemesis, Ian Hawke, CEO of Jett Records and a decidedly bad guy in previous Chipmunks films. However, in Chipwrecked, Hawke arrives on the scene as an employee on the cruise ship that is dressed like a pelican. He takes a surprising turn by helping Dave rescue the boys and their friends. Cross manages to take a bad guy role and turn it into a viewer favorite. His comedic escape from the volcano is one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

The viewer's experience might have been improved if it had been given 3-D enhancement as the previous installments were, but it manages to pull through with visual delights and nonstop action and furry antics that will keep young audiences enthralled.

While adult viewers, who may have grown up on the animated version of Dave and the boys, may be weary of yet another Chipmunks movie, young viewers will thoroughly enjoy this film's comedy and visual effects. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" also uses several clichéd plot devices, but they're successful as Mitchell uses them with his usual genius.

Although the direction of the storyline isn't always clear, there is something in this film for everyone, even the grownups. There is plenty of slapstick comedy for all ages; something Jason Lee is a master in. He seems totally at home with his CGI enhanced children, and every movement is natural, and funny. Kids will enjoy how Alvin, Simon and Theodore get away, yet again, with bratty and unruly behavior while defying authority.

For parents, the random and dated references to pop culture are nostalgic and pretty funny. They'll also enjoy the little life lessons hidden within the film's subtext. Simon finds that taking risks isn't always a bad thing, Alvin is once more taught the value of taking responsibility, and Theodore learns that courage was always hidden inside his heart.

Finally, if nothing else, the musical numbers make the film worth the price of admission. Several pop icons, including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, have their songs further immortalized in the Chipmunks' squeaky tones. The hilarious dancing that accompanies the music will have younger viewers bopping along in their seats.