'Alvin and the Chipmunks' sequel is cute enough
By Michael O'Sullivan
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Call it a Christmas miracle, albeit a minor one: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" isn't entirely awful.
In fact, for its young (or merely immature) target audience -- your average fourth-grader -- this sequel to the 2007 feature about an animated trio of squeaky-voiced singing rodents is a fair sight better than the original.
That's not saying a lot, admittedly. The first film held essentially the same appeal as a party balloon filled with helium. Sure, it makes people sound funny, just like fur-ball protagonists Alvin, Theodore and Simon, in fact. As in the earlier film, they're voiced by Justin Long, Jesse McCartney and Matthew Gray Gubler, in a CGI version of the novelty musical act created by Ross Bagdasarian in 1958. But how far can you go with that one joke?
Fortunately, there's a bit more of an actual story here, with the introduction of three female chipmunks, voiced by talented comedians Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Anna Faris (though you'd never recognize them from their computer-enhanced, adenoidal whines). Known as the Chipettes, this distaff singing trio serves as both music-industry rivals to and love interests for the "boys," as Alvin and his brothers are known. Reprising his role as evil record executive Ian Hawke, David Cross lends the movie a distinctly goofy edginess -- a gift for Mom and Dad, presumably. At one point, Cross's character takes a full-frontal hit in the groin from an errant toy motorcycle.
Such is the level of humor in a movie whose biggest laugh comes from a scene in which one of the chipmunks is trapped under a blanket with his flatulent human caretaker (Zachary Levi). Levi's character, Toby, is a last-minute fill-in for the chipmunks' more familiar ward, Dave (Jason Lee), who's forced to sit out much of the film in a body cast after a particularly nasty, chipmunk-induced accident.
Director Betty Thomas ("The Brady Bunch Movie") manages all of this middlebrow mayhem with a suitably light touch. "Fantastic Mr. Fox," it's not. But as talking animal movies go, this "Squeakquel" just squeaks by.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (88 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG for mild crude humor and slapstick violence.