Movie Review for Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)

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Review #586 of 365
Movie Review of Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) [PG] 90 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.25
Where Viewed: Harkins Ciné Capri at Northfield 18, Denver, CO
When Seen: 17 December 2007
Time: 6:30 pm
DVD Release Date: 1 April 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Alvin and the Chipmunks - Alvin and the Chipmunks (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Tim Hill (Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties)
Screenplay by: Jon Vitti (The Simpsons Movie) • Will McRobb ("The Naked Brothers Band") • Chris Viscardi ("The Naked Brothers Band") story by Jon Vitti based on characters created by Ross Bagdasarian

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jason Lee (Underdog) • David Cross (I'm Not There) • Cameron Richardson (Rise: Blood Hunter ) • Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard) • Jane Lynch ("Two and a Half Men") • Matthew Gray Gubler (R.V.) • Jesse McCartney ("Summerland")

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Click to read the spoiler points for Alvin and the Chipmunks
For over 50 years, Ross Bagdasarian's singing chipmunks have been delighting children and adults alike. For fans of the original Simon, Alvin, and The-o-dore, rest assured that Mr. Bagdasarian was a producer on this new CGI update of the three famous, festive furballs. Using a mixture of life action with the CGI animated chipmunks makes Dave, finally, a real live person, who looks an awful lot like Jason Lee. Jason Lee's physical comedy abilities go along way in carrying a film that, though it breaks one's heart to think about it, is really nearly 90 minutes of him talking to himself. When you dissect his role that way, which is hard to do once you've seen the film and really fall in love with the animated little guys, he deserves a lot of credit. It's one thing to act in a few scenes in a movie with a CGI character or monster or effects, and another to play an entire film opposite three non-existent, little characters. Obviously, he does such a good job and the animation is so well done, that, as indicated previously, upon exiting the theatre it is just right to accept what you've seen as actually having happened. Thus, is the magic of the CGI effects wizardry of today.

Simon, Alvin, and The-o-dore! never looked so good or so cute. Nor have they ever had more personality. The technology of their animation allows for so much more of their characters to come through while sticking to the archetypes we've grown to love. Simon, of course, is the studious intellectual (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler), Alvin is the go lucky fun one who causes most of the trouble (voiced by Justin "I'm a Mac" Long), and Theodore is the cute baby brother always needing a little extra help and someone to comfort him when he has nightmares (voiced by the real Jesse McCartney)—not that with chipmunk voices you can really tell that well who the real people are. In any case, the story sticks to the origins of the chipmunks who are abandoned in the forest by their parents and get transported to downtown Los Angeles when their tree gets chopped to be an office lobby holiday decoration.

…the perfect family holiday film of 2007.
Coincidentally, Dave (Jason Lee) just happens to be visiting the office tower on a mission to convince an old chum turned JETT Records executive to buy and produce his forlorn love songs. The chipmunks escape calamity in the building by hopping aboard Dave's stolen gift basket of muffins he swipes out of spite when his songs are swiftly labeled 'awful'. After tossing all of his musical recording equipment into the front yard and deciding to take a nap to clear his head, Dave awakes to the discovery a rodent infestation in his kitchen. Shortly thereafter, he discovers the chipmunks talk and after trapping and tossing them too into the front yard, that they can really sing. Soon a new friendship, though not the family for which the chipmunks are longing, is born with Dave managing their career in the music industry and Dave's smarmy record exec. Chum, now called Uncle Ian (David Cross) by the chipmunks producing their music on his label.

Life is going well for everyone except: Dave's not sure he wants to be a parental type figure for the 'boys', Uncle Ian is quite sure Dave is holding back their career aka his opportunities to exploit them for every dime they're worth, and the chipmunks are just typical kids hoping for the love of a family but not seeing that Dave is as accepting of them as they are of him. Aw, shucks. While the story goes along it's relatively formulaic and predictable path with foreshadowing galore to help you correctly spot the formula if you some how get distracted by the cute little shoes the chipmunks wear or their glitzy show outfits, it's still fun, humorous, largely entertaining and certainly one of the most kid-friendly, good values, and appropriate films of the fall film season. Tim Hill's direction along with Jason Lee and the animators carry the film, though David Cross is certainly an adept villainous type—not scary or horrible until he puts the chipmunks in a cat carrier to try and kidnap them for a world tour for which they probably aren't ready. With great music and dance numbers, great and funny chipmunk animated antics, and a solid story, Alvin and the Chipmunks is the perfect family holiday film of 2007.

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Cast Members
Jason LeeDavid CrossCameron Richardson
Justin LongJane LynchMatthew Gray Gubler
Jesse McCartney
Tim Hill
Jon VittiWill McRobbChris Viscardi
CD Soundtrack

Review-lite Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) [max of 150 words]
Alvin and the Chipmunks directed by Tim Hill and starring Jason Lee as Dave with the voices of Justin Long as Alvin, Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon, and Jesse McCartney as Theodore, despite a formulaic plot, brings the chipmunks into the new millennium with CGI animation endowing them with more character than 2D animation ever could. You'll be singing their tunes and believing in them before you know it. Ian Cross plays the 'bad' guy to smarmy perfection. With great music and dance numbers, great and funny/funky chipmunk animated antics, and a solid story, Alvin and the Chipmunks is the perfect family holiday film of 2007.

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