Susan Granger’s review of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” (20th Century-Fox)
Thoughts of suicide crossed my mind more than once while watching these popular, squeaky-voiced, computer-generated rodents scramble through their third big-screen adventure. But a trip to the popcorn counter quickly reset my equilibrium.
While on the Carnival Cruise Line en route to perform at the International Music Awards, Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCarthy), along with the appearance-obsessed Chipettes – Eleanor (voiced by Amy Poehler), Jeanette (voiced by Anna Faris) and Brittany (voiced by Christina Applegate) – accidentally hitch a ride on a kite. They land on an uncharted volcanic island, where they not only have to fend for their furry selves but also cope with Zoe (Jenny Slade), a UPS cargo pilot-turned-treasure hunter who’s been stranded there for eight or nine years and has taken to chatting with a variety of “friends” – a.k.a. sports balls – a spoof that was obviously inspired by Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” (2000), a movie that is older than the majority of children in the audience. Commandeering a paraglider to pursue the sextet of rambunctious rodents are their adoptive human dad, Dave Seville (Jason Lee), and resentful former recording exec, Uncle Ian (David Cross), dressed as the chip’s pelican mascot.
Written by Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel, it’s based on characters created by Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman, dating back to Bagdasarian’s Grammy-winning 1958 novelty record “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” Under the frenetic direction of Mike Mitchell (“Shrek Forever After”), the formulaic franchise soldiers on, adding a singular inventive twist when some of the acrobatic ‘munks change personalities as a result of a spider bite, an obvious allusion to “Spider Man.”
As for the obvious Carnival Cruise Line product placement, it makes one wonder if any of their luxury liners would actually list the names of the on-board vermin on their manifest.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” is a shrill, silly, furry 4. Pity the survivalist adults trapped in the audience.