DIFF ’09 Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
The singing and dancing Chipmunks are back just in time for the holidays in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’, a sequel that offers more of the same things that people loved about the original. The plot is threadbare and the characters stereotypical this time around, but kids are bound to love the cuteness overload [...]
The singing and dancing Chipmunks are back just in time for the holidays in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’, a sequel that offers more of the same things that people loved about the original. The plot is threadbare and the characters stereotypical this time around, but kids are bound to love the cuteness overload and slapstick humor.
The story continues after the original where the Chipmunks are now world-class stars. After an accident with Dave (Jason Lee), the Chipmunks are put under care of a loser Toby and they have a new challenge ahead of them – school. Here, they meet their challenge in the form of the Chipettes who steal their thunder with their singing and dancing along with Ian (David Cross) returning for vengeance.
What works well here is that the movie knows its main draw is in the cuteness of the Chipmunks and here we get much more of that (double to be exact). They seemed to have realized that Theodore is the cutest of the lot and this time the plot focuses around the issues he faces and even though Alvin is the main hero here, some of the movie’s most pivotal scenes revolve around Theodore. Also, with the inclusion of the Chipettes, there’s a whole lot here for anyone who enjoyed the original.
The biggest problem here is the cookie cutter and cliché plotline that lazily moves the setting to a high school. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, provided one does something original with it. Unfortunately, each and every character that the Chipmunks meet here are stock, walking clichés (the jocks, the bullies) and almost every single scenario that they face have been done before and better. Everything that isn’t set in high school is a rehash of the original so the movie plays out like a mix of a high school comedy and a musical only very predictable in structure. The plot also begins to sag in the middle where the Chipmunks face bullying from the jocks and for a good amount of time, the plot doesn’t advance at all dragging the movie’s pace.
Another problem here is the criminally short role of Dave (Jason Lee) this time around. Lee’s antics and way of dealing with the Chipmunks improved the first film a great lot and this time around he is given three to four scenes at most and there seems to be no good reason for it. The Chipmunks strolling around on their own aren’t nearly as interesting to watch and although the addition of Toby (Zachary Levi) manages to amuse, the shortchanging of Jason Lee hurts the movie since we have no lead human protagonist to empathize with.
The humor here is similar to the first one, appealing to the kids with fart jokes and toilet humor with healthy doses of slapstick. It’s juvenile but sometimes manages to crack you up especially the sequences involving David Cross. Also, there’s a surprising amount of emotional scenes in this one that manage to affect you, especially the parts with Theodore and the importance of family. This was something that the first film was missing. The soundtrack is lavish this time around, and the Chipmunks rendition of ‘Right Round’ and the Chipette’s version of ‘Single Ladies’ are a lot of fun to experience.
The voice acting is well done with Justin Long overdoing Alvin sometimes, but the rest of the voice actors especially Theodore and the Chipettes manage to capture the character. Jason Lee is hilarious in the scenes that he is in and Zachary Levi gives a humorous performance as a lazy loser given the task to handle the Chipmunks. David Cross gives his best to the material and role he plays and manages to be a high point of the film.
Overall, I realize this is a harmless kid’s adventure at heart and should be judged so. Kids are definitely going to love their favorite characters return on screen. If you didn’t like the first film, this one’s unlikely to change your mind. But it’s a film that knows its audience and caters to them well. I only hope they would have tried a little harder with the plot though.