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Movie Review

Alvin, Simon and Theodore are a trio of chipmunk siblings who are none-too-happy about their boring daily routine of foraging nuts for the winter. They do, however, love an occasional song break when they can harmonize their wee voices and sing their troubles away. But when big trouble shows up in the form of a Christmas tree company that takes them (and their tree) away, all they feel like singing is the blues.

In the meantime, struggling songwriter Dave hasn't been very happy with his lot in life, either. Nobody wants his music. Even his producer-friend Ian suggests that he hold onto his day job. So when the despondent musician discovers that three teenage rodents have somehow made their way into his kitchen cabinets, he sees his life as one big sour note.

But wait. When Dave happens to hear Alvin, Simon and Theodore sing (after the initial shock of learning that chipmunks can sing), his frown turns upside down. Yep, it's that kind of movie. These crazy chipmunks might actually help Dave make beautiful music. In turn, Alvin and Co. realize that they may have found a new home. And a new family.

Positive Elements

As wild and crazy as the kid-like chipmunks can be, they long for family ties and structure. Dave gives that to them, even though he's unsure at first that he wants to. When Ian lets the boys run wild without rules, they eventually realize that that's not good for them. They all tell Dave they love him.

Afraid after having a nightmare, Theodore goes to Dave for comfort. Dave lets him sleep in the bed with him. After Ian changes the boys' routines and music, making them more hip-hop, The Chipmunks (that's their stage name) realize that they need to get back to being themselves. "This is absurd," one says. "I feel like P-Diddy with fur."

Spiritual Content

On Christmas morning the chipmunks yell, "Hallelujah!"

Sexual Content

Alvin thinks Dave needs to spice up a quiet dinner with his neighbor, Claire ("Dave needs a little help from the love doctor"), so he dims the lights and turns on a sexy tune. The chipmunk then swivels his hips and tells Dave, "Bow-chick-a-wow-wow! Tell her she completes you."

During dinner, Claire wears a low-cut, form-fitting top. And when Ian sets up a big press event for The Chipmunks, he hires female backup singers/dancers who wear midriff-baring outfits. Women in the audience wear slinky, form-fitting dresses and cleavage-baring tops. Girls in skimpy bikinis lounge around Ian's pool.

Alvin tells Claire that she's "hot." Ian hires a sexy housecleaner so that the chipmunks don't have to do their chores around Dave's house. Telling Dave about the beautiful maid (who's also a masseuse), Simon growls seductively in her direction.

While showering in the dishwasher, Alvin sings, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" Ian encourages Theodore to spank his "booty" during a music video shoot.

Violent Content

Cartoonish. When Dave first catches the chipmunks in his kitchen, spilled food and smashed dishes are piled high. Alvin leaps out of a cabinet and lands on Dave's face. And at one point a large jar tumbles off a shelf and breaks over Dave's head, knocking him out cold. Theo squirts breath spray in Dave's eyes. Later, at Ian's house, the boys go wild again, smashing things and driving crazily in a small car. They're also launched from a tennis ball machine.

Crude or Profane Language

Exclamations include "oh my god," "madre de dios," "what a buzz kill," "yippee-ki-yay mamacita!" and "holy nuts." Words such as "loser," "butt" and "sucks" also make numerous appearances.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Dave drinks from a wine glass at dinner. Later, Alvin pops open a bottle of champagne that spills on the floor. The Chipmunks are driven to exhaustion by their frenzied schedule, so Ian buys them caramel coffee drinks that send them into hyper overdrive. When they fall sick, Ian tells the doctor, "Give them a shot or something. A cream or a pill." Alvin inhales helium and sounds like a baritone.

Other Negative Elements

Among other lies, Ian manipulates the truth to intentionally drive a wedge between Dave and his tiny charges in hopes of managing the little guys and pocketing all the moola. After all, chipmunks will work for ... nuts.

Toilet humor includes Alvin expelling gas in Dave's face. Theo poops on Dave's couch, and Alvin pops the "morsel" in his mouth to try to prove it's a raisin. Alvin sings a short song about dirty underwear. The chipmunks draw pictures of "Theodore's butt" on Dave's presentation boards for work.

Ian markets a number of Chipmunk products to fans including a Chipmunk wine cooler and a cologne called "Chipmunk Heat."

Conclusion

Half a century ago, in 1958, Ross Bagdasarian came up with a novelty song idea called The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late). He sped up his voice and sang the parts of three funny critters who longed for Christmas treasures. The cutely annoying little ditty shot to No. 1 on the charts and essentially made a career for Bagdasarian—a life later mirrored by his fictional David Seville alter ego.

From those humble beginnings were birthed Grammy-winning Chipmunk albums, several TV series (including The Alvin Show and Alvin and the Chipmunks) and a variety of animated movies. The youthful warblers even met their female chipmunk counterparts, The Chipettes, along the way. Thus, some form of Chipmunk nuttiness has been around for kids to enjoy for the last 50 years.

And since Hollywood execs have had a sudden desire to transform old cartoons into live-action movies (Transformers, Underdog, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle), it's no surprise that they've now gotten around to this familiar blue-eyed and furry ensemble. Considering those aforementioned film adaptations, it's also not surprising that 20th Century Fox concluded that the Chippies needed some freshening up. (Read: spoiling.) Never mind that the appeal for parents and their young charges will be the nostalgic cuteness of the squeaky-voiced crew of old, conventional wisdom says you gotta bring on the hip-hop stylings, the sexy dancers and plenty of potty pranks.

You might not realize what's happened at first, as immersed in this kind of stuff as we all are these days. It wasn't until I was talking with my editor about how to politely describe the "poop" scenes in this kiddie flick that I realized just what the poor ol' Chipmunks have become. How could their late creator be pleased? And most parents won't be either as they're forced to try to short-circuit the toilet humor, or remind their young ones that cheering out a swivel-hipped "Bow-chick-a-wow-wow!" in some girl's direction isn't good behavior during schoolyard play. Not to mention telling someone to "kiss my furry cheeks."

Alvin and the Chipmunks has managed to rummage up a few fun nuts for winter, along with a cautionary message about kids needing family structure. But is it worth stepping over the chipmunk, uh, debris to get there?

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jason Lee as Dave; David Cross as Ian; Cameron Richardson as Claire; voices of Justin Long as Alvin; Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon; Jesse McCartney as Theodore

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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