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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Alvin and the Chipmunks - The Squeakquel

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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS - THE SQUEAKQUEL (2009)

Starring Zachary Levi, David Cross, Jason Lee, Wendie Malick, Kathryn Joosten, Anjelah Johnson, Kevin G. Schmidt, Bridgit Mendler and featuring the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Christina Applegate, Anna Faris and Amy Poehler.

Screenplay by Jon Vitti, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.

Directed by Betty Thomas.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  88 minutes.  Rated PG.

 

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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel 

How can you even try to make a serious critique of a movie which subtitles itself as a Squeakquel? 

Obviously Alvin & the Chipmunks 2 doesn't give a flying rodent what critics think of it.  And you know what?  Good for them...

Not to say the Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel is really a good film, but in this case does that even matter?  It will amuse small children and has just enough nostalgia and cute humor going for parents to make the time spent watching seem relatively harmless.
 

Lots of family films don’t offer even these modest pleasures. 

If you get technical, the whole Chipmunks phenomenon is an odd one.  Speeded up vocals over pop music so that the songs sound like they are sung by furry forest creatures – the only thing weirder than the idea that these singers could become pop stars is the idea that essentially they have become pop stars. 

The Chipmunks have been going strong for over 50 years now.  The original “Chipmunks Song” was a hit in 1958 – long before the parents of most of Squeakquel’s target audience was born – in fact quite possibly before the grandparents. 

The characters are periodically reinvented with stuff like Chipmunk Punk and frequently updated Saturday morning cartoon series, eventually exploding back into American consciousness a couple of years ago with a surprisingly popular film version. 

Amazingly, the Squeakquel became an even bigger hit – in fact it has become the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman. 

Take a second to let that fact sink in.  No film directed by a woman has ever been a bigger hit than Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. 

Shocking. 

It certainly isn’t the best film ever directed by a woman.  In fact, it is not the best film ever directed by its own director, Betty Thomas – the former Hill Street Blues actress who has since gone on to direct The Brady Bunch Movie and Private Parts. 

Now as Alvin 2 is getting its DVD release, and while its incredible popularity is still rather disquieting, it is a cute enough children’s film.  The basic idea still holds up – a struggling songwriter discovers some singing Chipmunks and turns them into pop stars.  The Chipmunks are rambunctious and fun loving and essentially just little fuzzy children and soon the guy becomes their de facto dad. 

Of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks 1 star Jason Lee (of the TV series My Name is Earl) was apparently too busy to do the whole film, so he has limited his role to a few scenes which are essentially a glorified cameo.  The guardian role has been taken over by his ne’er-do-well nephew (played by Zachary Levi, who also portrays the title character on the series Chuck.)

There isn’t all that much of a story here, not that it really matters.  Alvin and the band have become big stars.  They meet up with a group of female chipmunks who are also aiming for stardom – and of course will eventually become their chaste love interests.  In fact, the Chippettes were accommodating enough to take on pretty much all of the traits of the Chipmunks – we have the aggressive leader, the intelligent one and the slightly overweight naïve one. 

This leads to a battle of the bands and a return of the evil record exec from the first film (humorously played by comic David Cross) – but there are no real surprises here. 

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel is comfort food.  It won’t challenge you or enrich you, but it will give you a nice, somewhat satisfied feel.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2010.

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Copyright ©2010  PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2010.