Alvin and the Chipmunks

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Alvin and the Chipmunks
Hollywood's Failed Attempt at adapting Alvin & the Chipmunks into a movie.jpg
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Hollywood's failed attempt at adapting Alvin and the Chipmunks into a live-action film, which essentially caused the trend of them making live-action adaptations to get worse…
Genre: Live-Action
Comedy
Adventure
Directed By: Tim Hill
Produced By: Janice Karman
Ross Bagdasarian Jr.
Written By: Jon Vitti
Will McRobb
Chris Viscardi
Based On: Alvin and the Chipmunks by Ross Bagdasarian Sr.
Starring: Justin Long
Matthew Gray Gubler
Jesse McCartney
Jason Lee
David Cross
Cameron Richardson
Jane Lynch
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Peter Lyons Collister
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 14, 2007
Runtime: 92 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $60 million
Box Office: $361.3 million
Franchise: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Sequel: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel


Alvin and the Chipmunks is a 2007 American live action/computer animated musical comedy film directed by Tim Hill. Based on the novelty band and the characters of the same name created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., the film stars Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, with Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, and Jane Lynch in supporting roles. Alvin and the Chipmunks is the first live action/animated film starring Alvin and the Chipmunks since Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks was released in 2003, as that film features puppetry used for the Chipmunks and this film features computer animation used for them. It was released worldwide on December 14, 2007, by 20th Century Fox and produced by Fox 2000 Pictures and Regency Enterprises. A second film titled Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel was released on December 23, 2009.

Plot

After the tree they called home is cut down and shipped to Los Angeles, talking chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore find a new home with songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee). Despite a rocky start to this new arrangement, Dave eventually discovers that the spunky critters have rare singing talent. When the three perform in front of record executive Ian Hawke (David Cross), he immediately signs them. Although the infectious group rapidly gains in popularity, their loyalty is soon tested.

Bad Qualities

  1. The main problem with this movie is that it has lots of disgusting toilet humor and moments that are not even appropriate for children:
    • In one scene, Simon (Alvin in the teaser trailer) was forced to eat Theodore's feces by Dave to prove to him it was a raisin, eating fecal matter is considered coprophilia.
    • When Dave traps Alvin under a hat, Alvin peeks his tail and backsides out to release a blast of flatulence in Dave's face.
    • The film even relies on some inappropriate jokes, such as the one in the film's climax when once Alvin and his brothers hear Dave calling for them, they tear off their outfits and leave themselves naked, which is very disturbing for younger viewers and even adults.
  2. It has its fair share of pop-culture references which feel out of place and are completely unnecessary, including a reference to The Matrix in one scene.
  3. Although it tries to stay true unlike most live-action adaptions are, it's not brilliant at staying true to the source material as it doesn't feel like the original Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons, albeit still featuring what fans like about the characters.
  4. It also has many product placements, these include Xbox 360, SpongeBob SquarePants (which director Tim Hill was also involved in), VTech, Puma, DHL, Lucky Charms, Utz, Spider-Man, Van's Foods, Apple and Samsung products, Campbell's, Pepperidge Farm, Crayola, Quaker Oats, Snyder's, Barilla, etc.
  5. While the CGI for the Chipmunks is pretty good, the other uses of special effects look rather outdated and uncanny, which is ironic considering the special effects are done by Rhythm and Hues Studios.
  6. Some of the acting is poor, mainly from Jason Lee as the chipmunks' guardian, David Seville, as he sounds very monotone and sounds like he doesn't want to be in the film. One good example is that his famous yell "ALVINNN!!!!" sounds phoned in and not angry enough compared to both Ross Bagdasarian Sr (the original Dave) and Ross Jr (the current Dave).
  7. Claire Wilson, while sweet and likable, is seen as a pointless and unnecessary love interest, due to her never seen again nor even mentioned in any of the sequels that followed (to be fair, Cameron Richardson, who portrayed her character, didn't like her experience in the film, explaining her absence from the other installments).
  8. The Chipmunks' redesigns, while not terrible, but are not the best. Not only do they look smaller, but they look closer to rats than actual chipmunks, earning them the nickname "CGI Rats".
  9. A few of the characters aren't portrayed all that good compared to the source material, like Dave for being portrayed as rather unlikable, and Alvin, while likable, doesn't have much of a personality other than being a troublemaker which is ironic because in the original, Alvin had the most personality.
  10. The Chipmunks' high-pitched voices can become irritating to listen to from time to time. The studio enlisted celebrities to voice the Chipmunks, specifically Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, and, while they do a pretty good job, it's hard to tell who is even voicing them due to them being pitched up, making this pointless as Fox could have used ANYONE (including Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman, who even recorded all their lines, some of which were used in trailers) for the roles and speed up their recordings and the result would still be the same..
  11. The musical score by Christopher Lennertz, while not terrible, sounds rather lackluster and generic.
    • The Chipmunks mostly sing pop covers rather than original songs ("Funkytown" by Lipps Inc. and "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter) which seem more like high-pitched rip-offs rather than using original songs in the film.
      • While their trademark theme song known as "Witch Doctor" is featured, it doesn't sound anything like the original and sounds more like a cheap hip hop version, which is a poor attempt at being hip and cool.
  12. Despite Simon being the smart one in the group, he doesn't seem to know much about the animal kingdom, even though he's one himself. When Dave asks whether all animals talk, Simon replies back saying "Well, I believe that fish have some sort of sign language". Not realizing that apes are the only animals to evolve and learn such a skill.
  13. Mediocre direction from Tim Hill.
  14. False advertising: Simon and Theodore have hats and sunglasses in the poster, not once in the film are they seen wearing those. The only glasses upgrade seen was when Ian relaxed Simon’s glasses.
  15. Plot hole: Alvin and his brothers were excited when Dave mentions Christmas, but The Chipmunks have been living in the woods their entire life, so it's impossible that they know what the holiday is that quickly in the film's plot. There's even a scene early on in the film that shows Theodore questioning what the "shiny things" on the tree were. (This also applies to them knowing the existence of television, music, and normal human food)

Good Qualities

  1. The movie has an interesting concept and premise about giving an origin story about how The Chipmunks and Dave Seville first met each other, despite the execution being mediocre.
  2. It stays true to the cartoons, though it doesn't succeed the best.
  3. It shows good morals such as family always comes first before fame.
  4. The movie has its fair share of cute and heartwarming moments, and some good jokes too.
  5. Alvin, Simon, Theodore (despite being one-dimensional and not portrayed all that good compared to the source material), Ian and Claire are likeable characters, with Theodore being arguably cuter than in the source material (kinda like Clumsy in 2011's The Smurfs). Ian is a very entertaining villain thanks to David Cross' performance.
    • Dave becomes likable by the end.
  6. There is some good acting, David Cross's performance as Ian Hawke is one of the most hilarious and enjoyable parts. Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney and Cameron Richardson, despite the former three's high-pitched effect and the latter not enjoying her experience which explained her absence in the sequels, are also pretty good as Alvin, Simon, Theodore and Claire Wilson, respectively.
  7. Surprisingly, there is a low number of pop-culture references compared to its three sequels.
  8. The chipmunks' clothing is faithful to their original designs, with the slight exception of Alvin's design not having his iconic hat most of the time. Not to mention, the cartoon's main issue, the Chipmunks' meerkat/human hybrid like appearances, is fixed here, and their redesigns, although they are great, are actually very cute.
  9. As mentioned above, the CGI animation for the Chipmunks is pretty decent, and it would improve on the sequels.
  10. Some fan-service is included, one of which is in the form of the original song that started Alvin and the Chipmunks, "Christmas Don't Be Late", being featured, as well as Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman reprising their roles here. Ross does Alvin's singing voice while Janice does Theodore's.
  11. The rock version of "Christmas Don't Be Late", though modernized, is admittedly pretty catchy. The soundtrack also features three versions (1958 Original, 2007 Original, and 2007 Rock)
  12. Besides remixes of "Christmas Don't Be Late" and "Witch Doctor", plus covers of "Bad Day", "Only You", and "FunkyTown", most songs are entirely original.
  13. Unlike most live-action films, this film actually reveals what happened to the Chipmunks' parents.
  14. The old albums of Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Alvin Show being shown in the credits scene was an excellent touch, and is overall a nice tribute to Ross Bagdasarian Sr.

Reception

Alvin and the Chipmunks was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics, audiences and fans, for its script, toilet humor, and characters, though David Cross's performance received some praise. On Rotten Tomatoes the film had an approval rating of 28% based on 109 reviews, with an average score of 4.52/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Though cutely rendered, Alvin and the Chipmunks suffers from bland potty humor and a rehashed kids' movie formula.". On Metacritic the film had a weighted average score of 39 out 100 based on reviews from 23 critics. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it grade A, on a scale of A+ to F. On IMDb, the film scored a 5.2/10.

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a two out of four and stated, "Jason Lee and David Cross manfully play roles that require them, as actors, to relate with empty space that would later be filled with CGI."

Despite the mixed-to-negative reception from critics, the movie would end up receiving a cult following amongst audiences through a nostalgic view, compared to the sequels, it's a guilty pleasure amongst many, and is considered to be the least bad out of all of the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.

Box Office

The film opened up at #2 on its opening weekend grossing $44.3 million domestically. It would later make a total domestic gross of $217.3 million. It grossed $144 million in overseas territories. Overall, the film made a worldwide gross of $361.3 million against its $60 million budget, making it box office success, despite the negative reviews. The film was the seventh-best-selling DVD of 2008.

Videos

Trivia

  • Development on a Alvin & the Chipmunks film adaptation started in the mid 1990s when Universal Pictures made an announcement that they talked about the idea of a live-action Alvin & the Chipmunks with Robert Zemeckis, (The same director behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Back to the Future trilogy and Forrest Gump) who was chosen to direct, but then it was scrapped in 2000 due to the characters creator's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr, filing a class-action lawsuit against Universal Studios.
  • Ross Bagdasarian Jr was to reprise his original role as Dave Seville, but due to his age, Jason Lee was chosen. Tim Allen, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, John Travolta, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were also offered, but all turned it down.
  • The original voice actors Ross Bagdasarian Jr & Janice Karman were to also reprise their roles as the chipmunks but were rejected for promotional reasons. However, Janice Karman's singing was still kept in the film.
  • Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt and Tom Cruise were all considered for Ian Hawk.
  • Drew Barrymore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Hayek and Jennifer Love Hewitt were also considered for Claire Wilson.
  • Many people say that Jason Lee sounded like he didn't want to be here, but surprisingly, Lee is a huge fan of the Chipmunks.
  • David Cross regretted being a part of the franchise.
  • The movie released same day of very first Alvin and the Chipmunks song, Christmas Don't Be Late, which started the whole franchise. In fact, one of the reasons this movie was made was to coincide with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the novelty band franchise.
  • It managed to have it's own tie-in game on the Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Windows.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail" is used in the scene where Simon and Theodore were watching TV.

External links

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