We all have those fond memories of things we loved as kids. Things that maybe our parents shared with us that shaped our childhood. For me, one of those times was when my dad was helping my grandmother by cleaning out her basement. As he was cleaning, he found an old stack of 45’s (those would be small records for those of you too young to remember anything other than CDs and MP3s). My grandmother didn’t want them anymore so they were given to me. Over the next 2-3 years, I would play them over and over again. Among the various “oldies” that I grew an appreciation for, were a couple of funny ones. This was my introduction to The Chipmunks singing “The Christmas Song”. Soon after this, we moved out to Cheyenne, WY. One of the few good things I have to say about that time was the fact that the local station played a lot of “nostalgia” TV shows (this was pre-cable times). It was here that not only did I watch the first comedies, but a lot of old cartoons were shown. You guessed it — Alvin and The Chipmunks was one of those shows. After moving away, I lost interest in the singing rodents, but they kept popping up with new albums. Then in the mid-80’s, they started appearing in a new show. I would watch it periodically, but not regularly — it was a bit too childish. After that time, they faded from memory.
Fast-forward about 20 years to now.
Starting with Christmas, 2006, when Justin Timberlake hosted SNL and opened with a rendition of “The Christmas Song” with cast-members dressed as Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, you started to hear buzz about them again. Then word came out that Jason Lee had been tapped to play Dave in a live-action movie.
Live-action……..the collective public shuddered with bad memories of Garfield and Underdog…
So I got up early and caught the $5 special at AMC Altamonte. I went in with low expectations, figuring I could do worse for $5. The theater was filled at 11:30 on a Sunday morning, surprisingly. I missed the trailers and got seated just as it started.
A very basic story, with clearly defined characters and wants. The Chipmunks want a family; Dave wants a happy realtionship; his girlfriend wants a family; the villain wants money. The CGI is not as annoying as it has been with other movies. The CGI artists really worked on refining the “humanity” of each ‘Munk, making them even more believable.
What was nice about the movie centered around the little touches. Dave’s house number being the year that The Chipmunks first appeared; how Dave came up with “The Christmas Song”; and having The Chipmunks sing different songs from different eras as a nod to earlier work. I really enjoyed seeing the album covers through the years as the credits rolled at the end of the movie.
My low expectations paid off — I was pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment I got out of the movie. Outside of the voices, I can see parents playing this often for kids and not getting too annoyed by it.
My advice: Catch it one afternoon, but don’t worry if you wait for DVD/cable. Do not sit down expecting quality cinema — after all, it is a movie about SINGING CHIPMUNKS — if you take it too serious, then you have issues that I do not know how to solve…