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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Lousy Varmints"
1 stars

At one point during “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” the follow-up to the shockingly popular 2007 film that marked the big-screen debut of everyone’s favorite trio of musically-inclined rodentia, lead vermin Alvin suddenly and inexplicably busts out his impression of Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver” by offering up a squeaky-voiced “You talking to me?” at the top of his lungs. In response, a little girl, probably no more than five years old, sitting behind me at the screening I attended was so enthused by this that she began offering up her own squeaky-voiced version of the line in response. As I sat there listening to all of this, I found myself thinking back to when I was five years old and, according to family legend, was trying to convince my parents to take me to actually see “Taxi Driver.” (Yes, my taste in film was pretty precocious even back then.) Trust me, if the movie theater had somehow screwed up grievously and actually screened “Taxi Driver” instead of “The Squeakquel,” I think everyone in attendance, even the youngest ones, would have been better off in the long run because not only would they have seen an incontestably better film, they would have seen one that wasn’t nearly as creepy, depraved and utterly repellent as this one. As bad as the original “Alvin & the Chipmunks” was, and it was horrible beyond human comprehension, one could argue that it at least made some token effort to entertain its target audience with its combination of silly humor, pat homilies and speeded-up renditions of popular tunes. This one, on the other hand, is nothing more than a cynical piece of crap put out by people who are so contemptuous of their audience that they clearly felt that they could slap together something as tacky, tasteless and ramshackle as this and get away with it because the success of the first one clearly demonstrated that families would flock to it regardless of its lack of any redeeming qualities.

Picking up where the last film left off--at least I think so, since I have pretty much blocked all memories of the particular cinematic experience--“The Sqeuakquel” (and I think that if I write that title one more time, I may bust a blood vessel or 12) opens with Alvin (voiced by Justin Long) and brothers Simon (Matthew Grey Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) as world-famous rock stars. Nevertheless, manager Dave Seville (Jason Lee in what has to be the most grudging contractually obligated cameo appearance in a sequel since Sarah Michelle Gellar slouched through the opening scenes of “The Grudge 2”) decides that they need to enroll in high school and, through a series of events too tedious to get into here, the three are put into the care of his slacker nephew Toby (Zachary Levi). At first, the three earn the ire of the school jocks because they steal the attention of all the pretty girls but when Alvin is revealed to have great hands, he is recruited for the football team and starts ignoring Simon and Theodore in order to hang with the big kids. Additionally, the school’s music program is in danger of being eliminated and the only way it can be saved is if the Chipmunks represent the school in a district-wide Battle of the Bands and win the $25,000 prize. Since the Chipmunks are allegedly the biggest rock stars in the world, you might think that they could have simply made a donation to the school to keep the music program running and let the unknown competitors vie for the prize--then again, if you are thinking along those lines, you are clearly too smart to even be reading about the likes of “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” let alone seeing it.

.Meanwhile, evil record company weasel Ian Hawke (David Cross), now disgraced and reduced to penury and dumpster-diving after his evil plans for the Chipmunks were thwarted in the previous film, is thirsting for a way to restore his reputation in the music industry and revenge himself upon Alvin & Co. and stumbles upon what may be the perfect solution when he cons his way into managing a trio of singing girl chipmunks--Brittany (Christina Applegate), Eleanor (Amy Poehler) and Jeanette (Anna Faris)--that he dubs the Chipettes and pits them against the Chipmunks for the right to represent the school at the Battle of the Bands. For those of you who simply can’t wait to find out for themselves, I can assure you that it all ends happily with a finale that includes homilies about teamwork and friendship, a chase scene, a “spontaneous” musical collaboration that comes together perfectly without a single rehearsal or hiccup (good thing the house band had “We Are Family” in its repertoire or things might have been a bit embarrassing) and, perhaps inevitably, a couple of shots to the groin for good measure.

Look, I am not an idiot (though the numerous “Avatar” fan boys out there might argue otherwise) and I fully recognize that this film was made primarily for a certain target audience that I am simply not a part of. I also understand that there is only so much that can be done with material of this sort and to ask for anything more would be foolish--even if someone like Paul Thomas Anderson or the Coen Brothers were hired to make it, it would still probably turn out to be empty-headed junk. (That said, the very thought of the Coen Brothers doing “Alvin & the Chipmunks” is infinitely more entertaining than anything on display here.) My problem with the film is that even if you do factor those elements in, the film still utterly fails to come close to living up to those dramatically reduced expectations. The storyline is a completely incoherent mess that sounds less like a professional-grade screenplay and more like a Mad Lib composed by a hyperactive group of first-graders screaming things out at random. The human actors are all appallingly cartoonish while the cartoon characters are all appallingly unlikable and indistinct--it boggles the mind that the producers would go to the expense to hire talented actresses like Applegate, Faris and Poehler to voice the Chipettes and then present their contributions in such a way that it is impossible to discern that it is already them. The music is indescribably annoying even by Chipmunk standards--if there is one thing that tunes like Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” (Put a Ring on It)” do not need, it is to be sped up to a helium-voiced consistency.

This is the kind of crap that one might expect to see in a film of this type, of course, but what really drags “The Squeakquel” further below its low-water mark are the bits that seem wildly inappropriate for something aimed at kids, even by my admittedly dark and jaded standards. I am willing to overlook the aforementioned bit in which Alvin quotes “Taxi Driver,” as well as a later one where he invokes “Silence of the Lambs,” and I am certain that the decision to clothe the Chipettes in skirts short enough to put the more bored or perverted audience members in the mind of a different type of woodland creature was just an oversight on someone’s part. On the other hand, we are treated to a scene in which Theodore crawls into bed with Toby and finds himself trapped under the covers while Toby lets fly with a long and loud burst of flatulence. Yes, “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is a film that actually resorts to presenting viewers with an on-screen depiction of a Dutch Oven for laughs and just in case you think I am reading way too much into this particular bit, the scene actually ends with Theodore screaming out “Ahhhhh. . .Dutch Oven!” while trying to free himself. I don’t know if this scene was done as an homage to John Waters, who publicly professed to an erotic fascination with Alvin in an interview around the time of the release of the first film, but the only thing remotely funny about it--possibly the funniest thing about the film when you get right down to it--is the thought of parents everywhere trying to explain what a Dutch Oven is to their inquisitive charges.

Then there is the return of David Cross as the bad guy record producer, a man who is reminiscent of Phil Spector in that you hope that he will eventually get around to shooting someone in the face. This is not to say that he actually does anything that could remotely be described as “funny” at any point in the proceedings. You see, when he appeared in the first film, many observers commented on how sad it was that a guy as funny as him was wasting his time and talents on something so artistically unrewarding that it made Eugene Levy’s continued fealty to the “American Pie” franchise seem somehow dignified by comparison. In response, he gave an interview in which he griped that he hadn’t worked in a few months and that being known as the guy from such cult classics as “Mr. Show” and “Arrested Development” wasn’t much help to him in the service of purchasing a house as his “Chipmunk” paycheck. That’s a fair cop, I suppose, but it does raise the question of what his excuse will be for his even less dignified appearance this time around. Having seen the film, I can only speculate that he did this one not for the money, but for the wardrobe. Note: This comment is only vaguely amusing if you have seen the entire film and I promise you, it isn’t worth the effort.

“Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is pure cinematic poison from start to finish and does roughly for holiday moviegoing what Irving Mainway’s Bag O’Glass once did for holiday gift-giving. One of the most aggravating things about it is the fact that 2009 has actually been a very good year for family films--if only I had a bounty of treasures like “Coraline,” “Up,” “Ponyo,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” when I was a little kid instead of stuff involving place-kicking mules--and to see it conclude with something this unrewarding is a bummer indeed. And yet, it will probably go on to be a massive hit like the first one because parents will just assume that it is safe to take their kids because it won’t be filled with traditional bad elements like sex, violence and dirty language. However, it also lacks such seemingly vital elements as humor, imagination and dignity and the absence of those things, in my opinion, is far more damaging to the young mind. In my mind, exposing kids to useless crap instead of a film that offers them something of value, such as the other titles mentioned above, is a form of genuine abuse from a cultural and artistic perspective. Remember, a terrible movie about animated chipmunks acting like idiots can hurt as much as a fist.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18295&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/23/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

11/18/14 Mario is the Best Hilarious! 5 stars
10/12/10 Cat Mindboggling annoying and I hated all of the music. 1 stars
1/08/10 cebii My kids loved it. I was reasonably entertained. 4 stars
12/26/09 D³ck Peter Johnson I'm totally nude! I've gotta boner!! ...and I've gotta take a sh³t!!! 1 stars
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  23-Dec-2009 (PG)
  DVD: 30-Mar-2010


  DVD: 30-Mar-2010

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