Enter Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel. Is this sequel a sleazy and tawdry cash in on the iconic anthropomorphic chipmunks, or is it more than meets the eye? Does the self centered alpha chipmunk Alvin allow his ego to consume him? Does he fall victim to the temptations of a rock star life style like Johnny Cash and so many musicians before him? Is this a music biopic of Ray or Walk the Line levels of quality? Hit the jump for the riveting answers.
Blu-ray is like a crisp breeze rolling off the beach during a weekend departure from normality. It can make the most mundane movie enjoyable on a purely superficial level. The initial CGI salvo reported in the Squeakquel was clever enough. Ever the showman and egotist, Alvin ignores Dave’s pleas to mute his antics during a charity performance. Alvin dangles upside down from the power cord of his rodent sized guitar, slicing through the crowd. On Blu Ray this sequence really popped off of the flat screen. After this abbreviated entertaining sequence, the Squeakquel collapses under a heap of inane film references, disturbing performances by the Chipettes and dialogue that a prepubescent mutant chipmunk could have scrawled.
The Squeakquel ups the ante by throwing three more mutant ‘munks into the fray. In a convenient plot development, the musically inclined chipmunks Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor literally drop in on the downtrodden Ian Hawke. After being ousted by Dave Seville in a ruthless takeover as the manager of the Chipmunks in the previous movie, Hawke begins formulating his revenge against Alvin and his kin folk at the outset of the Squeakquel. His dark plan: to turn the Chipettes against the Chipmunks. And thus the nutty plot machinations begin to turn. Hawke hussies up the lady chipmunks then instructs them to seductively dance to awesome covers of singles such as “Single Ladies”.
The movie further implodes when Alvin spits awesome one liner’s such as “You talkin to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” Pardon me…..that’s an actual quote from Taxi Driver. The Squeakquel effortlessly manages to butcher that iconic quote into some sloppy grade school lunch tray mess. At this point the Rubicon has been crossed. Jason Lee shows up just long enough to receive a pay check, and the dude from Chuck nerds it up as a temporary guardian to Alvin and his brothers. The saving acting grace was David Cross’s demented role as Ian Hawke. His solo performance at the end of the movie is unsettling and funny.
I didn’t think the Squeakquel could get much better. Then I had the pleasure of viewing the “Special Features.” Snide syntax aside, the special features were the most engaging quality of the movie. The “Munking History” was genuinely interesting. As I absorbed the colorful history and evolution of Alvin and his cohorts, it re-enforced what an abomination the Squeakquel was. A behind the scenes featurette revealed that actor Justin Long voiced Alvin, and actresses Christina Applegate and Anna Farris played Brittany and Jeanette. Why bother hiring actors to play characters whose voices wound up being digitally manipulated beyond recognition?
As a general rule of thumb, children’s movies seem to dilute their content. Every now and then you’ll get a Toy Story, a Finding Nemo, the Incredibles and Cars. The Shrek films can also be lumped with the Pixar films. All of the aforementioned films have been created at Pixar or Dreamworks. Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel was not. All have approached serious subject matter ranging from uncertainty and change to various familial issues. All have done such in a manner that respects their target audiences yet simultaneously appeal to an older crowd. Notice the Pixar and Dreamworks selections were referred to as films and not movies. A film is a carefully crafted piece of art that is appealing either emotionally, mentally or visually. Sometimes a film pulls a hat trick and is all three. A movie is fun, though it generally lacks any lasting substance. The Squeakquel is a dull addition to a franchise that hasn’t been relevant in twenty some years. Children aren’t dumb; they deserve a better class of film.