Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Three names that have been a staple in the music industry since before JT, before Led Zeppelin, and even before The Beatles. Sure, they’re animated. Sure, they’re chipmunks. But the harmonies they sing are timeless.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks” is the live action/animated story of the rise of these three harmonious rodentia, and a touching coming-of-age story about how a man comes to adore these bushy tailed bards as his own children – all while trying to break into the music business and win over a girl who is about two seconds away from getting a restraining order. Sounds like a real winner, doesn’t it?
But don’t let the “questionable” background story fool you. Surprisingly, this movie is refreshing. In light of the butchering of the source material to create films like “Transformers,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks” stays true to the story, almost 100 percent. The colors, the personality, even the voices (voiced by Justin Long as Alvin, Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon, and Jesse McCartney as Theodore), including tone, pitch and speaking patterns, were almost identical to the cartoon. Even the hip-hop flavored “Witch Doctor” or “The Chipmunk” sound amazingly true to the original sounds of the chipmunks. Jason Lee felt more like Earl Hickey than Dave Seville, as if he just couldn’t master the intricacies of Dave yelling at Alvin. Still, David Cross’ forced and artificial “record producer” was the worst part of the movie.
The DVD is scary at first, though. The menu features the ’munks rapping about dropping the Escalade for a drop top, which had me worried and primed to think this movie was just some cheap excuse for a rap soundtrack. And as for features, well, the DVD leaves a lot to be desired. The features on the history of the Chipmunks, as well as a short documentary about how they recorded the voices for the songs, are actually interesting to watch. The lack of commentary from the actors complaining about losing their voices during recording would have been funny.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks” surprised me in the end, with its strict faithfulness to the original and the fact that it was funny without coming off as a complete child’s movie. I just hope they come out with a special edition some day.