Singing the Same Old Song
"Alvin and the Chipmunks" has been around since 1958, when Ross Bagdasarian Sr. had a huge hit with "The Chipmunk Song." Bagdasarian was able to use his voice and recording tricks to spin this mild fantasy into a cash cow now tended by his son (the old man died in 1972), Ross Jr., one of the producers of the new "Alvin and the Chipmunks" film.
I suppose the justification for this iteration of the now-familiar tale of mild-mannered songwriter Dave Seville, who becomes father to Alvin and his buddies, Simon and Diseased Scurvy Rodent -- oh, sorry, folks, I mean Theodore! -- is new computer technologies. So this film features what look like living plush toys. (It also features authentic human being Jason Lee's excessively mild posturing as Dave and David Cross's hammy over-acting as the record exec who wants to corrupt the boys; Cross is reportedly human as well.)
Compared with the wonders in "Beowulf" and "The Golden Compass," this film isn't much. But youngsters who love the shrieky singing and don't notice the tapioca of the story will probably get their money's worth. Parents: Bring earplugs.
-- Stephen Hunter
Alvin and the Chipmunks PG, 91 minutes Contains mildly rude humor. Area theaters. Alvin and the Chipmunks PG, 91 minutes Contains mildly rude humor. Area theaters.