When I first heard of an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, I laughed and thought it would never happen. Then the once hilarious indie actor Jason Lee was hired to play opposite of CGI trio, I shook my head in disgust. Posters of the ‘munks being hip only made me realize I need anger management. And when they finally hit theaters this past weekend, their 2nd place finish with $45+ million was the last straw.
I had to see this crap.
Today I was bored and feeling down. Nothing lifts my spirits like trashing a sappy movie, so I went for the soft, striped target. Unfortunately, I was let down. Just like chipmunk fans will be (if there were any to begin with).
The movie is not good. But it’s not as painfully awful as I thought it would be. Children might smile and sing along with the little guys, while parents will wish they were doing anything else. (Me, I want a hula hoop.) But in the end you’ll admit it wasn’t even in the top ten worst of the year before instantly forgetting it.
The once annoying cartoon franchise from the 60s gets an animation upgrade, but not much else. The chipmunks are still a menace to their bland human owner, Dave (Jason Lee). The songs are still torturous, including new tracks re-recorded (now with helium!) from modern pop culture. “Don’t Ya” from Alvin showering in the dishwasher? Incorrigible! And the gags are just as lame, ranging from fart jokes and shit-eating humor (not making that up) to sight gags and slapstick fall-downs.
Lee, known for being the comic relief in Kevin Smith movies and on “My Name is Earl,” is given a role where he isn’t funny. Ever. He has the same delivery of confused exasperation every time, including shouting the famous “Alviiiiiiiiin” several times in case we forgot how uncomfortable this is to watch. I would have rather seen an hour and a half of Kevin Smith slapping Jason Lee in the face and repeating, “Get a hold of yourself” than Lee bopping his head to a chipmunk rendition of “Funkytown.”
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore themselves are adorable little CGI creatures. Theo especially will make you want to say, “Awww.” For some reason they’re voiced by young pseudo-celebrity actors, like the Mac guy Justin Long. But you can’t tell the difference once the computer has morphed them into the familiar ear-piercing whines.
Circumstance seems to bring the trio together with Dave, a struggling songwriter, and fate rockets them both into success in the music industry. Also Dave’s relationship is suddenly, miraculously fixed by the three rodents. Predictable, boring, and corny. Another bad trio.
The only comedic parts of the sap-fest come from David Cross as a record label executive and condescending villain.