Alvin And The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel(2009)
- RatedPG /GenreAnimation, Comedy, Family
Rating: 3 out of 5
Some reviewers, especially if they’re no longer on speaking terms with their inner child, may find movies like this terribly disagreeable.
There is no doubt that Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 is geared toward the sensibilities of young children and teenagers, and offers little for adult audiences, particularly those of parenting age.
However, to put things in context, this family-oriented ‘squeakquel’ does -- to its credit -- resist from going overboard with cheap thrills, though low-brow humour does have a strong presence here.
By the apt measure of crotch/fart/crap jokes, such potty humour is less prevalent here than in other family films such as Old Dogs or any number of the inane teen flicks that plague us each year.
There are plenty of song-and-dance numbers featuring the Chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and their female counterparts, the new-on-the-scene Chipettes, consisting Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor.
Getting these high-pitched CGI chipmunks and chipettes to belt out popular songs by recording stars such as Beyonce and Katy Perry chews up a significant amount of time, and these scenes pass by reasonably quickly and painlessly (for the adults).
There are also certain pop culture references which represent feeble attempts to tickle the funny bones of grown-ups, such as when Alvin does a possibly inappropriate Hannibal Lecter impression.
However, the film is predictably weak when it attempts to explore its little moral dilemmas, such as Alvin abandoning his brothers in his latest irresponsible act, and when it has the chipmunks’ geek uncle Toby (Zachery Levi) overcoming his shyness to pursue a long-estranged romantic target.
Jokes are explored in a new setting in this film as the chipmunks are sent to high school -- with no real explanation -- by their adopted dad Dave (Jason Lee), and the boys become the objects of affection for teen girls as well as the butt of nasty pranks for witless football jocks.
There are various confrontations in the cafeteria, in the toilet and in the gymnasium, but these aren’t particularly interesting.
It is only when the Chipettes, who seek out the Chipmunks’ nemesis, the conniving and unscrupulous music producer Ian Hawke (David Cross), in order to becoming singing sensations themselves, that the plot starts to move along in a sort of meaningful way.
How the story develops and how everything ends, I bet even a 6-year-old can guess.
One thing that was surprising about the film was that it did not engage in too many manic fast cuts, or too many lame jokes/visual gags in interminable succession, the way Beverly Hills Chihuahuadid.
Director Betty Thomas -- bless her heart -- manages to space things out a bit, and put in some breathing room between the comic hijinks.
This gives audiences some time to appreciate one underrated aspect of this movie, which is the fact that the computer animation is of sterling quality. (Just gaze into the plump, furry face of Theodore and see how cute it is, and how well it emotes.)
It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 wasn’t as bad as it might have been -- it’s fairly harmless, mindless entertainment.
For some grown-ups, it may even serve to reawaken their inner child.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
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