Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Directed by Betty Thomas. Voices by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler. Starring Zachary Levi, David Cross, Jason Lee, Wendie Malick. (2009, PG, 88 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 25, 2009
It's a rare but not unheard-of event for a sequel to top its predecessor. The Road Warrior, After the Thin Man, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan all leap to mind as films that trumped their predecessors by upping the ante with better scripts, more coherent directorial chops, or Ricardo Montalban. This is not one of those sequels, however, and director Thomas (forever Hill Street Blues Sgt. Lucy Bates to my mind), working from a script by returning screenwriter Jon Vitti and Kung Fu Panda scribe Jonathan Aibel, does little to improve on 2007's original "film/rebranding event." While The Squeakquel might be appreciated by filmgoers ages 10 or younger, the rest of us should be investing heavily in d-CON and working feverishly through the night to build a better rodent trap, preferably something spring-loaded and inhumane (I've been reviewing the various killing mechanisms of the Saw franchise for just that purpose). This time out, the all-singing, all-dancing, all-CGI chipmunks – rebel with paws Alvin (Long), wise guy Simon (Gubler), and tubby emo vermin Theodore (McCartney) – are left in the care of gameboy layabout Toby (Levi), a younger cousin of the squirrely little buggers’ surrogate dad, Dave (Lee). They wind up in a contrived "squeak-off" with a new trio of singing female chipmunks, cruelly dubbed the “Chipettes" by down-on-his-luck record exec Ian Hawk (Cross, returning from the original in search of a paycheck and not much else). Muskrat love, of a sort, is in the air, and while I suspect the sight of sexy little Chippette Brittany (Applegate) in an eensy-weensy, hot-pink leather jacket with matching New Wave ’do will appeal to the anthropomorphic titillations of the "furry" crowd, the film as a whole is only marginally less entertaining than playing roadkill Frisbee. One assumes that if this second installment in the franchise generates any box office whatsoever, there will likely be a third Chipmunk outing. My suggestion to the producers is to study the far more fun-filled and wacky aspects of the Rodentia order of mammals as seen in the films Willard and Ben and adjust their bullshit detectors accordingly.