Movie Reviews

Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Jason Lee as Dave
David Cross as Ian
Jenny Slate as Zoe
Justin Long as Alvin (voice)
Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon (voice)
Jesse McCartney as Theodore (voice)
Amy Poehler as Eleanor (voice)
Anna Faris as Jeanette (voice)
Christina Applegate as Brittany (voice)
Alan Tudyk as Simone (voice)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Summary:
"Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked" follows the formula of the previous films – feature zany CG chipmunks singing pop songs, throw in a few jokes to keep adults happy, and bring back David Cross. And that formula continues to work as something that keeps kids happy without driving away adults and their wallets.

Story:
While vacationing on a cruise ship, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are partying and generally stressing out Dave... like they do when they aren't on vacation. But thanks to Alvin's antics, the entire group goes overboard and is left behind by the cruise ship. The kids and Dave land separately on a deserted island where the family soon degenerates into madness. As they face starvation, Alvin is forced to hunt down and kill his brothers for food in a heart wrenching and hopeful tale of survival.

Just kidding.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked" is rated G.

What Worked:
OK, let's face it – no adult would willingly watch "Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked." If you're seeing this, then you're probably being dragged along by several kids 12 and under. So there's really only one question to answer – will it drive you insane? The short answer is no. It's not great, but it's not as bad as it could be either.

I have to give credit to the writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. They could have phoned this one in, cashed their checks, and washed their hands of Chipmunks 3. But you can tell that they did make an effort to make it funny and throw in a few jokes to keep the parents entertained. There are obligatory references to "Cast Away" that fly over kids' heads but parents appreciate. There are other jokes here and there that keep adults from running screaming out of the theater. So it's a lot like the previous two films in formula – entertain the kids with the silly singing CG chipmunks but occasionally throw a bone to the parents.

And like in the previous two films, the MVP is still David Cross as the evil Ian. He is dragged along on this adventure... while dressed as a pelican. (Naked inside, mind you.) His crazy looks, bizarre comments, and antics with straight man Jason Lee provide most of the laughs, for the adults at least, in this film. This movie stays afloat because of Cross. (<----See what I did there?) But he doesn't have to carry the weight alone. Jenny Slate joins the cast as Zoe, a somewhat zany woman marooned on the island too. She adds a number of laughs early in the film, but after her initial appearance she fades into the background until the finale. I would have liked to see more of her craziness.

What Didn't Work:
While there is some great comedic talent voicing the Chipmunks and Chipettes, very little of their personality comes through in the characters. Justin Long, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, and Christina Applegate are at their best when they're allowed to cut loose a bit, but the whole process of recording the chipmunk voices seems to dampen that. These characters could have been voiced by anybody which is apparent when Matthew Gray Gubler and Alan Tudyk switch out voicing Simon and it's pretty much unnoticeable.

The music this time around was also unimpressive. They chose to cover "Born This Way," "Firework," "Say Hey" and "Whip My Hair" among others. Kids will like these sugar coated pop songs but adults will probably wish for some original music like in "The Muppets."

The Bottom Line:
If you liked, or at least tolerated, the first two Chipmunks films, then you'll be OK with "Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked." Taking the kids to this movie is better than having them fight at home over the Christmas break.

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