Genre: Comedy/CG Animation
Director: Betty Thomas
Cast: Jason Lee, Anna Faris, Zachary Levi, Christina Applegate, David Cross, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Amy Poehler, Jesse McCartney
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Official Website: http://munkyourself.com/
Opening Day: 24 December 2009
In the “Squeakquel,” pop sensations Alvin, Simon and Theodore end up in the care of Dave Seville’s twenty-something nephew Toby (Zachary Levi). The boys must put aside music superstardom to return to school, and are tasked with saving the school’s music program by winning the $25,000 prize in a battle of the bands. But the Chipmunks unexpectedly meet their match in three singing chipmunks known as “The Chipettes” – Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette. Romantic and musical sparks are ignited when the Chipmunks and Chipettes square off.
No doubt about it, singing rodents sell more tickets than superheroes at the end of the day for 20th Century Fox. The first Alvin and the Chipmunks released in 2007, made on a paltry US$60 million budget easily reaped US$360 million whereas the sequel to Fantastic Four (also released in the same year) costs US$130 million but only recoup twice the amount in the worldwide box-office takings. Who has the most potential to make a killing? You do the math.
Originally scheduled for a March 2010 release, the sequel to the 2007 smash-hit "Alvin and the Chipmunks" is brought forward to December 2009 to cash on the festive mood and school holiday and it looks like Fox has a winner on hand again.
If you are familiar with the original, "Alvin and the Chipmunks 2" picks up where the first one basically left off. The Chipmunks' singing career came to a halt after guardian Dave Seville (Jason Lee) landed a stint in the hospital. Seville’s videogame junkie nephew, Toby (Zachary Levi from Chuck) temporary took over the guardianship of the Chipmunks and on the insistence of Dave enrolls the trio in his alma mater for a college education.
The villain in the first instalment, David Cross reprises his role as disgraced music agent Ian Hawke who is bent on returning to the music industry when he signs up three female Chipmunk sisters dubbed the Chipettes (think the defunct Destiny’s Child), Brittany, Elanor and Jeanette voiced by Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Anna Faris respectively with the intention to compete with the Chipmunks.
Naturally, you can’t expect too serious a plot to attract the younger crowd’s attention. The sequel fares like a diet version of the highly popular High School Musical series, you don’t get Zac Efron and gang of course thus director Betty Thomas (Doctor Dolittle, I Spy) has to rely on the dance choreography and singing department, the latter featuring Chipmunk & Chipettes version of Flo Rida’s Right Round, Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) and Stayin’ Alive, repertoire of songs not necessary familiar to youngsters but nevertheless catchy enough for them to hum to. Ironically, the singing and dancing which constitute a larger part in the first instalment is surprisingly lesser this time round though Alvin still maintains his usual irritating brassy self.
Some of the intended jokes and gags might fall flat on adults but kids will lap it up as if they are Saturday Night Live take for example some of the Chipmunks’s antics towards the Chipettes and the incredibly cute Theodore, the youngest and innocent of all the Chipmunk brothers.
The success of the first (I assumed) lead to a higher budget for the visual effects by effects house, Rhythm & Hues as undeniably the CG characters blend in a lot better with their human counterparts. Not that there is a lot to begin with as Seville is 'missing' from the screen a whole lot of time, Toby is a forgettable role which in turn left Cross to give another sinister turn as the franchise’s designated villain.
Running at a tight 88 minutes and obviously not made for the snobbish critics, the squeakquel (apparently shorten locally as just "2") is yet another family-friendly movie or to some, a nostalgic trip down memory lane (for parents who remember the Channel 5 cartoon series in the ‘80s). Don’t be surprised the helium-voiced rodents are coming back for a threequel if the accountants at Fox did their sums correct.
(Bring your date or kids to see the Chipmunks and Chipettes, if not avoid at all cost)
Review by Linus Tee