DVD Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks
By Jeff Swindoll Apr 2, 2008, 13:02 GMT
A L V I N ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Struggling songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee) opens his home to a talented trio of chipmunks named Alvin, Simon and Theodore, they become overnight music sensations. But when a greedy record producer (David Cross) tries to exploit the "boys", Dave must use a little human ingenuity and a lot of \'munk mischief to get his furry family back ...more
Alviiiiin! The critics pretty much reviled it on its release date, but Alvin and the Chipmunks still had some of that old magic since it well made up its production cost by over about 100 million.
Three talking chipmunks, Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney), are singing and piling nuts into their pine tree for the winter. Their tree gets chopped down and put in the foyer of Jett Records for the holiday season.
Dave Seville (Jason Lee) is trying to sell one of his songs to Ian Hawke (David Cross), an old friend and executive at Jett Records. Hawke, in friendship, basically tells Seville that he doesn’t have a chance (doesn’t sound very friendly does it?). On the way out Dave swipes a muffin basket from Hawke’s offices in retaliation and as he goes through the foyer the Chipmunks hop aboard.
Dave then discovers that he’s got some talking Chipmunks in his house, not only that but he also discovers that they can sing. Soon he’s back in Hawke’s good graces and the Christmas song the Chipmunks sing is a boffo hit.
The Chipmunks think of Dave as their family, but Hawke butts in to make sure that his moneymakers have to work their little tails off for him.
In 1958, Ross Bagdassarian spent his last $200 to buy a top of the line tape recorder. One of the functions was that you could speed up the voices. He composed a Christmas song and thought up some fictional Chipmunks to sing it. Nobody would play it, but Bagdassarian got lucky and a DJ gave it a spin on the air and the switchboard went crazy.
“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t be Late)” went on to be a number one hit and made Bagdassarian a fortune in merchandising. The Chipmunks seemingly stalled in 1972 with the death of Bagdassarian, but Ross Bagdassarian, Jr. took over the company and tried to revive them.
They succeeded in reviving them in 1980 and now they succeed again in 2007. Seemingly against the odds since the critics tore the movie to shreds (for the bottom of the chipmunk cage I suppose) but 215 million dollars later the Chipmunks proved to have longevity that those critics didn’t see. I got drug along to the movie with the kids and really didn’t have high hopes since the last kid-friendly movie I watched with Jason Lee turned out to be a dog (Underdog, that is).
I was pleasantly surprised that Alvin and the Chipmunks really turned out to be an entertaining little film. I call it the “it didn’t suck” factor. It’s not going to win any Oscars, but I and the kids had a great time in the theater.
Sure they’ve updated the ‘munks look and sound for a modern age but I thought the film was still very family friendly and enjoyable for all ages within yours (though expect higher ratings from the younger crowd).
Alvin and the Chipmunks is presented in a two sided release with fullscreen on one side and widescreen (anamorphic 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 televisions) on the other. Special features are somewhat slim considering how much money the picture took in.
The widescreen side has a 9 minute featurette about the soundtrack and the fullscreen side a 12 minute featurette about the history of the Chipmunks. Other that you get a soundtrack promo and trailers for other Fox DVDs. A two-disc edition was announced and later cancelled, but I wonder if we’ll see it surface again around Christmas time?
I liked it. Alvin and the Chipmunks isn’t exactly going to promote world peace or a cure for cancer (though I doubt it will cause it either), but it was a fun family film. Jason Lee is a bit forgiven for his turn as a talking dog, but let’s hope his next family friendly project keeps the streak up.
I wanted to give it 4 stars, but the lack of special features made me drop it a half point.