Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2012) - Movie Review


The plot: While on a cruise, the Chipmunks Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), Theodore (Jesse McCartney), and the Chippettes Brittany (Christina Applegate), Jeanette (Anna Faris) and Eleanor (Amy Poehler) end up going overboard and marooned on a desert island. As they try and survive on the island, with the help of fellow castaway Zoe (Jenny Slate), Dave (Jason Lee) and Ian (David Cross) have also found their way onto the island.

The music, this time helmed by Devo front-man Mark Mothersbaugh, isn’t as annoyingly over-produced as the previous films. The covers are fewer this time around, with a couple of original pop songs included like LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem, but they are at least enjoyable here. More so than before, at the very least.

Rather than focusing so much on the music, this film seems to be making an active attempt at character growth, particularly for Alvin because there’s a reason that he is named in the band. Through a frankly absurd concept involving Simon and the effects of a venomous spider bite, we unfortunately don’t get Spider-Munk and instead get him turning into a faux-French explorer called Simone (now voiced by Alan Tudyk, not that you’d notice). Because of this, Alvin is forced to realize just how much he has been annoying the audience… I mean Dave, by proxy. Not that any of this actually pulls through as the writing and acting aren’t quite strong enough to make the idea work too well. However, because this shows that the writers are actually trying this time around, this automatically is the best of the series so far. Don’t read too heavily into that, though.

The comedy, while a marked improvement, still reaches desperate levels on more than a few occasions. Maybe it’s just more embarrassing watching this three years after the fact, but the internet meme reference jokes are especially painful to sit through: Honey badger, double rainbow, Charlie Sheen “winning”? This is dangerously close to Seltzerberg style humour, a comparison I most certainly do not make lightly. This isn’t helped by the presence of Zoe, who is crazed without being engaging, a combination that should not be possible.

All in all, I will admit to being surprised that this wasn’t completely awful, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly good either. Credit where it’s due for attempting to give some character growth, the improved music quality and a couple of moments that legitimately made me laugh, but this only makes it better than its predecessors, not exactly a high mark to reach. This series may have a while yet before I can call it “good”, but it’s at least showing signs of improvement.

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