I'm not sure that a professional review of a movie like Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is something the world really needs. If the combination of jukebox-friendly pop tunes sped up to high-pitched irritability and non-existent jokes present in the film's advertising weren't already enough to tell you exactly what you're about to step into with this movie, then the wearied look of quiet desperation on every star's face in this film ought to do the trick. Nobody involved in the making of Chipwrecked looks happy to be there. Even the extras, who normally would be falling over themselves competing for screen time, can't muster more than a half-hearted bit of swaying during what's supposed to be a particularly raucous dance scene. It's like everyone gave up before they even arrived on set.
I can't say I blame them. One of the film's co-stars, the former comedy icon known as David Cross, made his feelings on this film known before it even arrived in theaters, describing it as the worst experience of his professional career. Why, then, would he even bother to show up for another one of these things? Because the deal he signed when he agreed to do the first film locked him in for three films. One can surmise that he and co-star Jason Lee never expected there to be one sequel to the first godawful film, let alone two. Surmising that, one can understand why both look so utterly beaten down before the first musical number has even begun in earnest.
Cross has it especially rough, reprising his role as the evil record executive who tried to exploit the poor Chipmunks in the first movie, and then the poor Chipettes in the second. Now he's relegated to working on a cruise ship as a company mascot. He literally wears a pelican costume for the entire duration of the film. He wears the indignity of it all like a sullen teenager forced to put on a sweater and bow tie for his grandmother's birthday party. The frustrated petulance is so thick, you can practically smell it wafting off the screen.
Jason Lee at least sort of pretends he's trying, I guess. He interacts with his CG chipmunk brood with something that almost resembles human emotion as he brings them all along for a luxury cruise. Alvin, being the wretched dick that he is (let's face it, he's kind of the worst), disobeys every rule his "father" (this is creepy, right?) lays down for him, which eventually results in shenanigans, chicanery, and eventually, disaster. Via things that happen because of reasons, the chipmunks end up on a seemingly deserted tropical island, forced to fend for themselves. Eventually Lee and Cross end up there too, because they're contractually obligated to do so.
Then more stuff happens. The Chipmunks find another castaway on the island (Saturday Night Live's Jenny Slate), who is there primarily to set up a lot of bizarrely outdated Cast Away jokes. Slate, for her part, is the only one in this cast who seems game to go for the over-the-top in her performance, but she's given no real material to work with. Elsewhere, Simon (the nerdy one) is bitten by a spider, which for some reason turns him into a more dashing, heroic, French version of himself, like the Chipmunk equivalent of Stefan Urquelle, or something. That storyline kills a good 20 minutes of screen time.
If I sound altogether dismissive of this film's story, it's because the film itself is equally dismissive of it. Like every other Chipmunks film, the plot is just a loose series of events designed to set up various musical numbers. Hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, Destiny's Child, and The Go Gos ("Vacation" is sang a minimum of three times throughout the film) are given the Chip-tuned treatment, all because they vaguely relate to some scenario that's happening on screen. Sometimes they don't even bother with that, even. When Slate professes to have no idea who the Chipmunks or Chipettes are, they launch into a rendition of "Bad Romance" in an attempt to explain to her who they are. Never mind that they didn't write that song. She, like all of us, are just expected to know that The Chipmunks are famous, because they sing other people's songs in very high pitch.
It wasn't a particularly great gimmick back when The Chipmunks debuted as a novelty song group in the late 1950s, and the gag hasn't aged well. The old cartoon series wasn't the worst thing in the world, but there is something about the live action films that has always seemed...off. Even apart from being terribly-written, poorly acted junk aimed to distract kids for 90 minutes at a time, there is no particularly good reason for these live action films to exist. CG chipmunks are no better than animated chipmunks, and if anything, the CG versions just look all the more peculiar juxtaposed against real life creatures.
Now that these actors are out of their contractual obligations, it will be interesting to see if any return for a fourth film, should the studio decide to inflict another upon the unsuspecting public. Given that children actually laughed at the non-existent punchlines and seemed to be singing along with the sped-up pop tunes during my screening, I assume that there is still some kind of audience for this dreck. I try not to sit in judgment of what children like, because let's face it: a lot of the stuff we liked as kids doesn't exactly hold up to scrutiny either. Still, considering I feel about 10 IQ points stupider after watching Chipwrecked, I can only imagine what it did to the many impressionable minds watching alongside me.
Trailer 3: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
It's a mashup of The Chipmunks and Lord of the Flies, apparently. Here's hoping they all kill each other.
Trailer 2: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
"I'm going to puke," a character says. You'll know precisely how he feels by the end of this trailer.
Teaser Trailer: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
No, I will not "munk myself." I refused to "Smurf myself," too. I don't want to do either of those things.
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