When I think “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” I think cartoon animation. Why? Well, it makes the most sense; why do live-action when they’re cartoons in a live-action world anyways? Furthermore, that’s the only thing I was left thinking about after this movie ended, that I wanted to watch the animated version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. The problem wasn’t with the acting, as the cast is full of people that I love in other works; the problem isn’t the songs, which are quite catchy despite their high-pitched mutation; the problem certainly a lack of focus on the titular characters. The writing, however, was abysmal throughout.
The box office smash hit Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel sings and shakes its way to Blu-ray Disc/DVD Combo Pack, “Squeak-Along” double DVD, and DVD Single Disc March 30th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. A follow-up to 2007’s Alvin and the Chipmunks, Chipmunk singing sensations Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back for an encore in this hilarious “squeakquel” packed with over an hour more of music. The Squeak-Along bonus content includes new sing-alongs such as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” teaches audiences how to dance like the Chipmunks with the “Shake Your Groove Thing” dance instructional video, games and more nutty fun for the whole family!
When it comes to the plot, it surprised me in having something of a solid foundation. It was annoying that it led to David Seville, the natural co-star and obviously parent of Alvin, Theodore and Simon, played by Jason Lee – which still shocks me to no end, and simply comes off as surreal if you’re at all familiar with his various involvements with Kevin Smith movies. Aside from that, the plot actually holds potential despite being somewhat cliché. If the writing, done by three people who all have less than reassuring writing credits, had been done better (and probably not by a mediocre committee), then I could easily see this film as actually being capable of turning out decently. Instead, what happens is that the plot is frequently disregarded or sidetracked into something that is inevitably also disregarded in trade for a series of unoriginal hijinks or horribly contrived dramatic issues. The most notable sub-plot that gets shoehorned in, and then completely disregarded, and inevitably poorly wrapped up, is done with Toby Seville, played by Zachary Levi, and his high school love interest. Not only is his love interest introduced in such a way that made her seem as nothing more than a passerby in his flashbacks, but when she’s eventually shoehorned into the present timeline you don’t even remember her. It’s not really implied that she has any interest in Toby, but they end up together anyways.
The main plot itself isn’t treated much better, which if I recall right was saving the school. It got disregarded far too often, and the school never really seemed to need saving aside from being passively mentioned, to really stick out. Oddly, I didn’t even get the feeling that their school should have won at the end, as the female singer that had been focused on before the Chipmunks arrived, after the worst excuse of a chase scene, should have been the winner. The Chipmunks didn’t really do anything interesting, and frankly it was ridiculous that the entire student body apparently not only quickly forgave the Chipmunks – after previously booing them for not performing – but even forgave the Chipettes for nearly ditching them as well.
The lack of sincerity from the students at the end pretty much defines the charisma of any of the other supporting characters, as they all lack any sort of sincerity or interesting attributes. David Seville is played so blandly you’d think that every single scene was the first time he had read his lines; Toby Seville came close a couple of times to being somewhat interesting but is simply there to be a disappointment, or an exaggerated gamer stereotype; the school Principal is written as though none of the writers have any idea as to how Principals really are. If it weren’t for her open personality, I would say she belongs in the 1920’s era as she continually censors herself from being a fan of the Chipmunks, but why? They’re not a controversial group – they’re kid-friendly! Principals are allowed to have a personality, and personal interests, and even express them. It’s not a taboo – although the tattoo was going overboard. The only character throughout the movie with actual redeeming qualities is Ian Hawk, played by David Cross. This isn’t any brilliance of the writing, but rather only brilliant casting, as his acting style lends itself to the bizarre and he found a natural habitat in being a completely unrealistic and exaggerated personality. The other cast members, as much as I love their other works, just don’t lend themselves to half-baked, or over exaggerated characters as David Cross is capable of.
The music, as I mentioned, was catchy, but that isn’t through any credit to the writing either. The movie is void of any original music as far as I could tell, and the majority of songs are antiquated singles from decades before the target audience was born. This is most likely due to not wanting to shell out the money for too many modern hits, all of which seemed to be sung by the Chipettes,
Overall, if you have children, I guess they might enjoy it as it is targeted towards them, albeit in an overly pandering way. In that case, though, it’s only recommended for a Rental. Of course, the first one should be seen first, as that would hopefully explain some stuff, such as the references to Ian Hawk’s treatment of the Chipmunks. I’ve still yet to watch the first one, but I guarantee this won’t get me watching. If you don’t have children, there is most likely nothing here for you.
Hooray, three discs of Chipmunks! Yup, Fox gives us another three-discer, with the first being a Blu, the second a DVD, and the third another DVD with a digital copy on it. Exciting!…but not really. It’s an impressive package just from the weight of it, but the interest quickly fades when you realize that you are, in fact, holding Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 in your hands. Bully for you!
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded transfer and…hey, guess what, Fox did another fantastic job. Shocking, right? The image is clean, clear, with very little issues although the abundant clarity of it all makes the CGI stick out like a sore thumb at times. Not really an issue with the transfer, however, so you can’t really take points away for that; in the end it’s as good of a transfer as you’re going to get from a modern film and kudos to Fox for unleashing another great transfer.
Audio is similarly clear, although it does not have nearly all that much spread in the surrounds. Speakers are mostly quiet back there and the LFE only lurches awake when some stupid antics occur on-screen. It’s a very laid back audio mix for the most part, even when the songs come into play (oddly enough); still, it’s not completely terrible and it will prove to be more than enough for the kids watching this one.
• Munking History: 50 Years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem & Music
• Munk Music Machine
• Meet the Chipettes
• Rockin’ Rising Stars
• Music Mania
• Meet the Stuffies
• Shake Your Groove Thing! with Rosero
• Music Videos & Sing-Alongs “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “We Are Family,” “Shake Your Groove Thing”
• Music Videos: (“You Really Got Me” featuring Honor Society & “The Song” featuring Queensberry)
• A-l-v-i-n-n-n-n!!! Album Maker
• Live Lookup
• Music In A Nutshell: Song Trivia
• The Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking
• A-NUT-omy of a Scene
Ah…holy crap that’s a huge list. There’s actually around fifty minutes of actual extras sprinkled bout in that list, all in 1080p, but the majority of those are all games and music mash-ups for kids to watch. I again stress kids because it’s all a very dull set of extras to watch, although you may want to keep the really young ones away from “Meet the Stuffies!” since it reveals the lifeless stand-ins that the actors “acted” with during scenes. Disturbing!
Overall a solid Blu-ray set, but if you’re above 8 you are (or should) already out of the age group for this one. Skip It unless, again, you’re 8 or have kids.
Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Film review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter