Title: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross; and the voices of: Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Alan Tudyk
Well, at least “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” was not a painful 87 minutes. In fact, after coming off the dreadful “Squeakquel” in 2009, this looked like an Oscar contender (hopefully a studio won’t take that out of context and place it in an on-air promo).
The only change in the game-plan for the third installment in the franchise was bringing back Jason Lee to near full-time status. And while it is nice to have someone who can sell blending in with the CGI furry stars, he really doesn’t make or break the movie. But I’m sure he broke the bank (Twentieth Century Fox probably had to shell out to get him back in this capacity).
Our story is not wasting anytime here. Dave (Jason Lee) is taking the Chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, Theodore; and the Chipettes: Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor, on a Carnival cruise. Dave is hoping that kids will have fun, but there version of fun is clearly not on the same wave-length as his. And this leads to all of them to accidentally finding away to fly off the boat and land on a deserted island. Separated with no resources, the playful – and always singing – Chipmunks must grow-up in a hurry, if they are going to find a way to survive, and eventually get off, the island.
The script does a few clever things in order to make this stale franchise palatable again. Having one of the Chipmunks encounter a personality change – due to being bit a a local spider – can lead to some genuine laughs. And placing the group in a new environment has a few substantial moments as the dialogue between the CGI stars can have a quiet thought. Issue is though, everything moves so fast, that it’s tough to take anything in.
Also jumping back into the mix is the once ruthless music label CEO, Ian (David Cross). He’s not given a ton to do, but he usually has a way of making his under-developed lines comical via his delivery.
What has been missing from the “Chipmunk” flicks since the first is an emotional flow. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth drama, but the levels never rise – yet they do often fall. “Chipwrecked” is at least DVD worthy filmmaking, and there is a worthwhile moment here and there. In the end though, all audiences will feel a numbness watching this (better than pain right?). The product just feels like a manufactured cash grab – which it is – and has no soul to it, despite the passionate singing and lyrics (mostly cover tunes of today’s popular tracks), from the little stars.
Overall, “Alvin in the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” is a tolerable listen, yet never has the true artistic passion to make you want to put it on repeat play.
By Joe Belcastro