My cat was at home stalking mice that were seeking warmer shelter now that the weather has taken a decided turn toward winter. I was in a theatre watching helium-voiced chipmunks sing. We were both doing our jobs, but only one of us was fulfilled. It was not the human. Neither the cat nor I like rodents. The cat’s aversion seems innate; mine is perhaps more intellectual. Yet my dislike of the novelty act, Alvin and the Chipmunks, arises from my gut, and it’s an antipathy that began during their original incarnation back in the late Fifties when I was but a kindergartener.
So, admittedly, I’m coming to this movie with prejudicial eyes and ears. And it’s not that these eyes and ears were meant for better things. It’s just that the onscreen antics of Alvin and the Chipmunks were never meant to appeal to anyone whose age had outgrown single digits, hence the dopey puns in the titles of the follow-ups to the animated singing group’s cinematic rebirth in 2007: The Squeakquel and, now, Chipwrecked. But really, Ratatouille aside, our children should not be playing with disease-carrying rodents.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked uses lifeless CGI animation to tell a haphazard tale about singing sensations Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, as well as their three backup singers known as the Chipettes, becoming stranded on a remote island. As the film begins, they are traveling to Europe on an ocean liner with their human surrogate dad, Dave (Lee), to collect a prize at the International Music Awards (and stow it away for the winter?). After laying waste to pop tunes ranging from the Go-Go’s to Lady Gaga and running wild throughout the ship, they fall overboard and wind up stranded. Things take a turn for the tedious on the island where there are no adults to thwart but for the crazy lady (Slate) who’s been there for years. Jokes referencing the movie Cast Away and double rainbows will be beyond the kids’ scope but may keep their chaperones from scratching out their eyes. I really think the entire payoff to the Chipmunks’ gambit comes in those inevitable moments when Dave bellows in exasperation, “Alvin.” Maybe if we all bellow in unison it will be forceful enough to put an end to this painful film franchise.