Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) - Movie Review

Alvin and The Chipmunks (AaTC) is a film that makes me want to violently bleed from every orifice in my body. Oh, I'm sorry, did I give my opinion away too soon? Well too bad because this film is awful. It's horrendously awful. The type of awful that defies conventional English and forces me to invent gibberish words in order to properly express its horribleness. It's timbaflarglingly terrible, wolstoppiberflingly bad, it makes my kinflipple want to unduct itself and mostilatedreat a pig. 

But...before we can examine this anal blockage of a film, first we need to look at what kind of food it was beforehand. AaTC were an invention of Ross Bagdasarian (no that's not more gibberish, that's his actual last name) a singer/songwriter who went by the stage name David Seville presumably because even a slight mispronunciation of his real last name would summon the Old Ones. Although he had had a few successes in his early career, he didn't really hit it big until 1958 with the release of Witch Doctor. Y'know this legitimately charming ear-worm: 

The big innovation with that song was the sped up voices. They were nothing new in of themselves but the fact they were audible was nothing short of a miracle given the time and technology. The voices were given identities in his next song aptly, the aptly named Chipmunk Song:
And from there the Chipmunks spun off into toys and cartoons and toys and merchandise and cartoons and toys and animated movies and toys and merchandise and merchandise and merchandise and became what the business types call "Bankable Nostalgia". And lo, the AaTC franchise was given its own big-budget, CGI, human centered, totally radical movie in 2007, which is the subject of today's autopsy. This shallow, manipulative style of film making has birthed such beloved classics as:






I was going to use another phrase aside from "beloved classic", but I can't, because I want to keep this blog PG.
All of those movies are bad in their own way, but today's movie is the king of crap mountain. I hate Alvin and The Chipmunks with the fury of a thousand burning suns, and today I'm going to show you why. Prepare your rodent stomping boots and earmuffs as we descend into the pile of rat droppings that is Alvin and The Chipmunks 2007.
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We begin in a tree farm in the wilderness where Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) are stocking nuts for the winter whilst singing (in their altered, high pitched voices) Bad Day.
I have several questions.
Not 2 minutes in and we've already run smack dab into my biggest problem with this film, the Chipmunks themselves. Now the whole "pitch shifted voice" thing is okay to listen to for maybe a two minute long song or a twenty minute cartoon but for an hour and a half long movie?
Well, you know that bit from Jaws where Quint gets everyone's attention by dragging his fingernails across a chalkboard?
And do you also remember that part where Jaws is a legitimately GOOD movie and dear god what am I doing I could be watching Jaws instead of this!
It's like that except constantly and it's excruciating to listen to! It's hard to describe in words, but the Chipmunks voices are one of the many reasons why I find this movie to be worse than the Black Plague if it joined ISIS. It doesn't help that the CGI on the Chipmunks is absolutely terrible but we'll get back to that later.
Also, how the hell do the Chipmunks know what Bad Day is? Hell, how do they know how to sing? Are there constant raves going in this back ass part of the woods!? Do these Chipmunks have a radio player!? I know this movie is meant for stupid baby children but come on, you've got to make at least a little bit of sense!
Moving on...
The Chipmunks lose all their nuts and bicker for a few ear-bleeding seconds when their tree is cut down and placed in the back of truck, taking them to the city. Uh, hey movie makers, you do realize that loggers check trees for small animals before they cut them down right? 'Cause people usually don't want to get a tree that's stuffed with animal carcasses and feces yeah!?
Oh what am I complaining about? In the time it takes to get to the city, the Chipmunks will have all died and I can stop watching this movie!
From there we go to our main human character, Dave, played by Jason Lee.
Seen here giving his most energetic performance in the entire film.
Now, I like Jason Lee. I think the dude has mad talent and I've really enjoyed his performances in Mallrats, Dogma and The Incredibles and such, but it is so obvious that he does not give a crap in this film. To be fair, this film is written like the writer had a chronic fear of his own laptop, but it is more than obvious by his vacant stare and monotone delivery that at any one moment he's milliseconds away from running to his paycheck and then dashing off into the horizon.
In any case, he wakes up and realizes that he's late for work. Rushing outside he runs to his perfunctory, totally pointless love interest named who-cares (Claire) played by who-gives-a-crap (Cameron Richardson).
I'm totally necessary to this film!
Yeah, she is to this film what Wonder Woman is to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in that you could cut her out of the film completely and nothing would change.
They engage in some brief conversation where we learn that Dave used to be a creepy stalker (oh, how charming) and then they make reservations for dinner (because of course). Dave gets to his crap truck and then makes his way to work. And it's here that we learn the true author of my pain!
YOU WILL PAY HILL! YOU WILL PAY DEARLY!
In any case, we see inside that they're setting up a Christmas tree and that the Chipmunks have (somehow) survived the trip and were (somehow) not seen when setting it up and (somehow) remain unseen even as the tree is being decorated and they're standing right in the open!
I DEMAND this film about talking Chipmunks conform to MY view of logic!
Also, Theodore asks where the mountains have gone, until Simon clarifies that they are in a building ('cause he's the smart one you see). Keep this little detail in mind, because I'm going to bring it up later.
It's here we meet our main villain Ian Hawke, the head of Jett Records, the company the Dave gives his music to and whom is played by...
Oooooohhhh nnnooooo....
David Cross!? David, what the hell are you doing here man!? Did you really need the money this bad!? It's not even that it's a kids film, you were in the Kung Fu Panda movies and those are really good, but you had to be in this? REALLY!?
If Jason Lee cares about his performance about as much as someone who doesn't care about stuff, then David Cross cares about as much as a I did when I made that analogy. Though to be fair, he is the one who delivers the only funny lines of the movie.

He takes Dave up to his office where he gets offered a muffin basket, anomelet station and some water by three separate women. Hey it's more flirtation than I get in a day.

They listen to Dave's music (sung by someone who is very clearly not Jason Lee) at which point Ian tells him in no uncertain terms (whilst name dropping Justin Beiber and Fergi, because we gotta be hip with 'dem kiddies boy!) that his music sucks, he sucks for making it and that he should stop making music all together and just quit on life.
Also your parents never loved you, everyone you've ever known is just a TV actor payed to pretend to like you, your dog is dead, your house is being repossessed and we're all just insects floating on an insignificant blue ball through the vast depths of space. Have a nice day now!
Okay he's a little more subtle than that but that's the basic of it. Dave walks out as Sad Music^TM plays and apparently all the women are psychically linked as they start acting like jerks to Dave at the same time. Dave is about to head down in the elevator, but before the doors close he nabs the muffins (an action he is never reprimanded for).

He enters the lobby just as the Chipmunks make a break for it across the floor. The white floor, with their brown bodies. Look, I realize that no one in films ever has any peripheral vision but COME ON!
Dude, you're a delivery guy, YOU NEED TO LOOK WHERE YOU'RE GOING! YOU SHOULD BE ABE TO SEE THE THREE HELL SQUIRRELS!
They stow away in Dave's muffin basket and Dave heads home.
When he gets home, Dave chucks the muffins in the trash, unknowingly putting the Chipmunks exactly where they belong.
He then sets about destroying and throwing out all of his music equipment with all the passion and vigor of Tommy Wiseau on sedatives. 
"Yuur taaring me aparht musac industree!"
He lays down on the couch dejected, meanwhile the Chipmunks break out and engage in SHENANIGANS! and product placement.
"Merchandising! That's where the real money is made!"
In any case they cause enough of a mess to draw Dave's attention, at which point they hide by ripping off Toy Story.
Hey, movie! Stop reminding of better movies I could be watching instead of your lame ass!
And they engage in some more shenanigans, including the most hated of bad children's films cliches, the egregious fart joke.
Ha ha, the chipmunk farted on the dude's face. LAUGH!
Look, I don't have an intrinsic hatred of fart jokes that most people seem to have, and I do believe that done well they can be funny. However, much like jump scares in a horror film, used too often or too egregiously can make your movie end up seeming cheap. And this movie is very cheap.

They drop a glass jar on Dave's head, knocking him unconscious.
I could be watching Spongebob Squarepants instead of this. Yeah sure that later seasons SUCK but at least it had a point where it was good!

Anyway, Dave wakes up and sees AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
GOD THEY'RE AS BAD AS THE MERMAIDS FROM PAN! And this is my second biggest problem with the Chipmunks, they just look really off! They're not cartoon-y enough to be cartoons but they don't look good enough to look like they're really there, so we get this weird middle ground where they're just unsettling and unnatural. I don't like looking at them. Say what you will about the mermaids from Pan, at least they didn't have voices like Cerberus got his balls cut off.
"So, does this mean you like us now?"
NO, YOU'RE STILL FREAKY AS HELL TOO! SHOVE OFF BEFORE YOU GIVE ALL THE LITTLE ONES NIGHTMARES!

Anyway, Dave understandably gets freaked out by the little...freaks and he asks if all animals can talk to which Simon replies that fish have a kind of sign language (HOW? THEY DON'T HAVE ANY HANDS!) They establish their basic personalities to Dave, Simon is a "genius", Theodore is unbearably twee and marketable and Alvin is an unlikable little brat.
Dave questions how they know him by name to which they reply by saying that they read his mail. Simon tells him "you really outta pay the utility bill Dave, ever heard of a credit rating?"
How...
How!
HOW!
No, no I'm not going to explode at that. If I explode at everything in this goddamn movie, I'm going to be here all day.
So Dave tells HOW HAVE YOU HEARD OF A CREDIT RATING!? YOU'RE CHIPMUNKS!! YOU'VE LIVED IN A TREE FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIVES! HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SING!? WAS THERE A [BLEEP]ING LUMBERJACK JUST WALTZING AROUND SINGING SONGS AND GIVING OUT FINANCIAL ADVICE!? DOES THE FOREST GET GOOD RECEPTION!? HOW DID YOU KNOW WHAT A BUILDING WAS!? WHO WROTE THIS GARBAGE!!!!!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I...I'm okay now. I think I'll be alright now. Let's just...get on with it.

Dave calls the Chipmunks "creepy, unnatural and somewhat evil" (Okay, Dave is officially alright in my books) and chucks the Chipmunks out into the rain.

However, the Chipmunks start singing, getting Dave's attention. After they sing a rendition of Funkytown that makes me want to set fire to every small mammal and piece of musical equipment I can see, the Chipmunks and Dave cut a deal. The Chipmunks sing for Dave, they get to live in his house. 

After rescuing his music equipment from the rain, Dave questions the Chipmunk's child-like behavior, to which Simon responds that they are indeed kids. When Dave asks where their parents are, Alvin responds they were hippies and left to join a commune.

Chipmunk hippies. Chipmunk...hippies.

We're only 20 minutes into this film folks, pray for me. 

He sends them to bed, but in the night, he get inspired by the Chipmunk's rhythmic snoring.
Awakening the next morning to the sounds of Spongebob...
Ahh yes, that joke from earlier came back later. That's what makes me a professional online blogger. *Snobby laugh*!
...Dave finds the Chipmunks making toaster waffles. They go off but Simon misses one, despite it landing right in front of him. Dave gives Simon a pair of glasses from a nearby Santa display (that work like actual glasses, somehow), meaning Simon now actually looks like Simon.
"Y'see, all three classic Chipmunks fans who are still watching this Eyeball Grater of a film, we care!"
To be fair though, this does lead to a legitimately charming bit where the Chipmunks and Dave sing the Classic Chipmunks Christmas song. I mean, it's still being sung with the Chipmunk voice, but it's better than nothing. And at least they didn't do anything stupid, like, I dunno, adding dubstep or putting it to a cliche rock music video. I mean, they wouldn't be stupid enough to do that right? ...R-right?
Well, in any case, it's a legitimately nice moment. Which then actually leads to a legitimately funny scene, as Dave tries to show off the Chipmunk's skills, but they get stage fright and can't sing. It's the one scene that did actually get a chuckle out of me. Ian obviously questions Dave's sanity, and tells him that it's quite strange for a grown man to bring another grown man a box of supposedly singing, dancing Chipmunks.
Especially ones that have obvious, emotion filled faces.
So there we go, a charming scene followed by a funny scene. Can the movie keep this high up?

Of course not.
After scolding the Chipmunks for embarrassing him at his career and making him late for work, Dave heads to his advertising business (why is it in bad kid films the main generic white dude is always an ad exec? Smurfs, Garfield is there a trend here?) to present the charts above. It's a scene that's utterly pointless and could easily be cut out and is a symptom of this film's second big problem, it's PADDED! It's padded like the walls of a solitary confinement cell! There are so many scenes that could be removed and absolutely NOTHING would change, and this is one of those scenes. It's horrendously unfunny, none of these characters (including Dave's boss played by Jane Lynch, another actor too good for this movie) ever appear again and did I mention it WAS REALLY NOT FUNNY!?

After getting fired Dave heads home and if I were him, this would be the part where I put on my big boots and go STOMP STOMP STOMP, but he has more patience than I do. He comes home to a messy house and demands to know what happened. Theodore responds that they coloured and didn't know that the thing they coloured was important. Dave is obviously angry, but his anger causes Theodore to drop a pellet, which Simon then eats to cover up for him.

Yes, Simon, of Alvin and the Chipmunks, literally just ate sh*t in...a...movie...meant...for...children.
Excuse me for a second.



He yells at them some more and then discovers that disposable love interest from earlier is coming to dinner. So skipping ahead a bit because I want to be out of this damn film as soon as possible: the lady friends comes over, she and Dave engage in a "romantic" scene that is unbearable to watch because they both have as much chemistry as a purple carrot, Alvin plays porno music (IS THIS MOVIE FOR CHILDREN OR WHAT!) and the night ends poorly.

Dave goes over to his bed and thinks about putting the Chipmunks in a box, putting that box in another box and mailing that box to himself and then smashing it with a hammer once it arrives, but ultimately decides against it.
In order to make up for it, the Chipmunks head out to Ian's place to sing for him. For whatever reason he doesn't take a blowtorch to them and instead decides to sign them on.

The next day Dave and the Chipmunks go grocery shopping, when a little girl tries to kill Dave by throwing a tuna can at his head.
"Just let me kill you now Lee, I'll save you from the doing the rest of these!"
Dave is about to scold the Chipmunks when he hears their song come on over the store speaker (that was quick! The Chipmunks went to Ian just last night, and yeah, business travels fast, but it takes a while for a song to go into syndication!). Right at that moment he gets a call from Ian, who says that they're both going to be rich. 
From here we cut to a montage of the Chipmunks getting famous set to a bastardized rock cover version of The Chipmunk filled with dubstep (OH! HOW WONDERFUL!) that makes me to bombard Hollywood with tactical Nuke strikes until it's nothing but a radioactive wasteland, not that it would change it all that much!

Also, how the hell are there not scientists from every fold of the globe not clawing eyes out for a chance to study the Chipmunk's? THEY'RE TALKING CHIPMUNKS! Surely they would redefine everything we know animal biology, and would restructure the way we treat the animal kingdom!? I can only assume that this must be like an "Aliens in New York from the Avengers" style event that changes everything we know! There would have to be people out there building churches to Chipmunks, calling them a sign of the apocalypse! Fire raining from the heavens, continents turning to ash, dogs and cats living together, MASS HYSTERIA!
But no, I'm sure turning them into pop stars is equally as important! ARRRGH!
The next scene is one so contrived and forcefully twee that it makes me want to projectile vomit. Theodore gets a nightmare and tries to to get into bed with Dave and it's meant to be all nice and sentimental but it's SO overdone and forced that it comes across feeling cynical. 
Also, never let your "pets" sleep on your face. That can only ever end in misery, pain and cat hair in your mouth.
Skipping over another painfully sentimental scene that makes me want to murder whoever came up with the word "Whimsy", Dave gives the Chipmunk's presents then Ian busts in and gives the Chipmunks bigger presents and tells Dave that he's got a week to right a new hit single. So, you know, no pressure.

Cut to what is presumably a week later and we see that are a lot of people who are apparently desperate to watch some freaky rodent people sing.
But not a single one of them is a scientist AND NO I'M NOT LETTING THAT GO!
The Chipmunks bust out out on to the stage and sing a version of their classic song Witch Doctor that makes me want to take a machete to every executive that lives in L.A. 
"You rang?"
It's just so obvious that this song was mangled by executive's in order to make it "hip" and "cool". The original song is timeless, it's not a masterpiece by any means, but it's better than the bleep bloop committee designed garbage being forced down our ears like a frog in a toilet.
I mean it has everything a cheap song mangling always has, a DJ opening it up...
"Yo Yo, your boy Chip Munk, in da house!"
...sexy back up dancers...
...and of course an obnoxious rap beat underneath it.
 Alvin spews out in the middle of the song "Yo' DJ pump this party" and all of this nonsense that tries to make the Chipmunks hip and cool can't disguise the fact the fact that this film IS ABOUT TALKING CHIPMUNKS! If I may be allowed to step on my soap box for a second and say that, I'm sorry, but trying to portray the Chipmunks like they're a Drake or a Justin Bieber style sensation not  only doesn't work, it dates your movie worse than cheese left out in the sun! This movie is only 9 years old yet it feels more dated and out of touch than say, the original Superman or Toy Story, both of which are older than this film, but still hold up because they didn't try to ground themselves in their time periods and therefore remain timeless. People still talk about Christopher Reeves as Superman, people without kids still go out to see whatever Pixar films, who still cares about the Chipmunk films beyond a distraction!? Just because you're making a film for children doesn't mean you shouldn't try!
Aside from me right now, obviously.

Whatever, moving on. After their what I would tenuously call singing, the Chipmunks and Dave have an autograph signing where Claire comes up and tries to get an autograph. After some embarrassingly written back and forth, Alvin calls her hot.

NEXT SCENE!

The after-party starts and in the background I can hear the lyrics "Ain't no party like a Chipmunk party 'cause a Chipmunk party don't stop" which is officially the worst thing I've ever heard.
Ian comes up to Dave and shoves this horrifying thing in his face
Still not as creepy as the actual Chipmunks in this film.
They converse for a bit, with Ian saying that he basically saying that he wants to exploit the Chipmunks for money whilst Dave wants them to be more like normal kids.
Because, y'know, if the one thing the Chipmunks brand has always been against, it's merchandising.
Huh, Road Chip? What is that like a spin-off or something? 'Cause there are only three films yeah?
The Chipmunks are engorging themselves on chocolates and sweets (YES! GET DIABETES AND DIE SO I CAN STOP WATCHING THIS FILM!) when Ian comes over and tells the Chipmunks that Dave doesn't actually like them and blah blah blah.

Cut to the next day, Alvin is playing a game and acting like a typical gamer.
"Next I'll go online and send death threats to every women in the games industry!"
So after another [BLEEP]ing scene in this [BLEEP]ing movie, Dave comes over and we partake in more [BLEEP]ing padding as the [BLEEP]ing Chipmunks don't trust Dave for whatever the [BLEEP] reason, and there's a masseuse there for no [BLEEP]ing reason and they argue, find the note that Dave wrote and threw away earlier and decide to go live with Ian because why the [BLEEP] not!

And so what follows is, AND I [BLEEP] YOU NOT, is TWENTY SOLID MINUTES OF PADDING!

Seriously, they dick around in Ian's mansion, making stupid, pointless Matrix references...
"Because the Matrix is still cool right!? PLEASE TELL US WE'RE COOL!"
...they mope about the fact that they miss Dave, and otherwise just fill time! During a dance recital Dave calls up and asks how they're going, Ian responds that they're good and going to go on a world tour. Dave doesn't like this because other countries are SCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARY!
So Ian overworks them to the point that for their final American concert they need to pull a Milli Vanilli and lip sync, so let's just skip to that shall we!
The concert starts and Ian watches on with some only very slightly racist Japanese Business Stereotypes.
Y'know, because this movie wasn't unpleasant enough!
Dave sees that the Chipmunks are performing and goes to save them.
When he gets there he almost gets stopped by security but Claire is able to get him in, fulfilling her only real impact on the film. Dave busts into the arena and sees the Chipmunks on the stage and yells out to them over the music...somehow.
The Chipmunks strip on stage (that sounds way worse than it actually is) engage in more [BLEEP]ing shenanigans (including a Die Hard reference, because of course they do) before they get caught in a cat carrier. Which, to be fair, does lead to the only other funny exchange in the movie:

DAVE:   ...they just ruined the concert! Word will get out, no one will come to see them!
IAN:   (Mockingly) They're talking Chipmunks Dave, (softly) people will come.

So the Chipmunks get carried off as they try to escape and Dave gets back to his car. Does this mean we get a cool, exciting car chase?
Of course not! The stupid bastards couldn't even give us an exciting climax! [BLEEP]!
Wait, what am I complaining about? The movie's almost over! Okay, so, Dave and the Chipmunks reconcile in a mawkish way, they go home, Ian is ruined financially (Where the Chipmunks the only thing his company produced?) there are a few more shenanigans and THEN THE MOVIE ENDS

DA END!

No wait, it wants to torture me a bit more. The final thing we leave on is David Cross crying in front of three squirrels. 
And if that isn't a metaphor for this movie, then I don't know what is.
The credits start by saying that this film was dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian Senior, and I would say that this film is making him spin in his grave, but at this point he's probably spinning so fast you could retrofit him as an industrial strength drill because THIS MOVIE SUCKS!!!!!
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If you couldn't tell by now I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HATE this movie! The Chipmunks are as ugly as sin and sound just as bad, the humans are all poorly acted, it's too juvenile and cliche for adults but too raunchy for little kids, it's obnoxious, it's cynical and cheap. It's just a bad, bad, bad, BAD movie! I want to saw all of these movies limbs off and watch it flop to death, I want to rub salt in this movie's eyes and throw it to the crocodiles! I want to cover this movie in gasoline and set it alight, just to watch it burn. Don't show it to your kids, don't show it to your dogs, don't even show it to the floor, because chances are you floor will some how gain conscious out of this movie's badness, wake up and EAT YOU for showing it such a monstrosity. There are so many good films meant for kids out there, movies that will respect them, and treat them as of they have intelligence beyond that of a lobotomized rock! Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) gets The Stubbed Toe “Award” for Certified Cinematic RAGE INDUCEMENT!

I guess the joke's on me though, because this film made money. Hoo boy did it make money, from a measly $60 million dollar budget it grossed over $300 million, so that means Hollywood had leeway to do what Hollywood does and that is sequels! Yes, this movie had sequels that I am sure are terrible but THAT I AM NOT GOING TO REVIEW! I refuse! There are just some things in life that you need to pass on. I'm not going to do it! Doing two of these in a row would kill me! Let alone the idea of doing them all in three subsequent weeks, that would be suicide! It would be like cracking open a book of Lovecraftian lore, it's guaranteed to drive a mortal man insane! So, no, I'm sorry, but I'm putting my foot down and WILL NOT review the sequels! Alright? Alright.
So what's next week!?

Next Review: Some time before the heat death of the universe.
Son of a [BLEEP]!


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