Movie at a glance ...
“Alvin and the Chipmunks”
2 out of 4 stars
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate and the voice of Justin Long
Now playing at West Theatre in Craig.
If Bob Denver proved anything during his time on “Gilligan’s Island,” it’s that only disaster can come on a tropical destination from a hyperactive inhabitant who’s always clad in a crimson shirt.
But, the Skipper’s “little buddy” couldn’t have been anymore tiring than the title character of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.”
It’s vacation time for the world’s two biggest musical trios.
On their way to an international awards show, the Chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore (voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney), and the Chipettes, Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor (Christina Applegate, Anna Faris, Amy Poehler) are guests on a transatlantic cruise promising sun, fun and more.
Naturally, Alvin’s idea of a good time differs greatly from that of manager and father figure Dave Seville (Jason Lee), getting the rambunctious chipmunk in hot water before the boat even leaves port.
For all the trouble he causes, it doesn’t take much time for Alvin to cause a bigger problem by getting all six chipmunks off the ship and swept out to sea.
When they wash up on a little patch of land in the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing to do but try to make the best of things as they wait for Dave to find them, but the island on which they’re stuck holds more than a few secrets.
Do you call him an owner or a dad? Either way, Lee is about the same as he was in the first two movies, run ragged by the tiny pseudo-kids in his care, with one more troublesome than the others. But, he still cares about them enough to jump overboard and try to find them once they’re marooned.
Such an endeavor means teaming with his nemesis, jaded former record producer Ian Hawke (David Cross), whose plan for revenge may need to wait until he’s no longer wearing the pelican suit as the cruise line’s mascot.
For all the bad-mouthing he’s done about the series, comedian Cross at least makes it look like he’s not just doing it for the paycheck.
One wonders what the motivation is for the vocal talent behind the Chipmunks and Chipettes, since it’s not as if you can identify them after their characters’ voices are remixed. Why mess with success, with Long providing the patter of mischievous Alvin and everyone else filling their usual roles, such as scaredy-cat Theodore, lively Eleanor and diva Brittany.
However, things get shaken up once a bug bite turns super-serious Simon into the super suave sportsman Simone (Alan Tudyk), flirting heavily with fellow brainiac Jeanette. That’s all well and good, but since these boys and girls share a common parent doesn’t that technically make them siblings?
Moving along then …
As usual, the less you try to think about the logic behind these movies, the more you’ll enjoy them. None of the individual installments of the “Chipmunks” trilogy has been horrible, but that’s not to say any have been particularly good.
While they do get a hair better each time, there are just as many headaches for the parents in the crowd who have been dragged by their kids, not the least of which is a decade-late “Cast Away” reference with the Chipmunks and Chipettes meeting a long-stranded delivery courier (Jenny Slate) whose only companions have been a basketball, tennis ball and golf ball with faces painted on them.
But, at least the “Robinson Crusoe” bit provides the fuzzy ones with the closest thing to an actual plot they’ve had in any of these films. What’s more, Alvin, wondering if Dave really loves him, finally shows his first sign of maturity, having to pick up the slack of responsibility with Simon temporarily out of commission.
Even if it’s battling that stupid Internet meme, Honey Badger, at least it’s somewhat of a step toward growing up compared to standing on the railing of the cruise ship shouting “I’m the king of the world!”
If you liked the first two “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” there’s no reason for you not to embrace “Chipwrecked.”
Still, the added benefit of the new “Ice Age” short, “Scrat’s Continental Crack-Up,” starring the hapless prehistoric squirrel in search of his beloved acorn — a much more enjoyable cartoon rodent if you ask me — is all but forgotten once we get to the Chimpunks and Chipettes singing their typical bombardment of squeaky pop songs.
A cover of the Go-Go’s hit “Vacation” is OK, but who felt the need to give us a high-pitched version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance?”
Now playing at the West Theatre.
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