Review: 'Chipmunks' don't make the cut 

Jason Lee is better than this.

Granted, you wouldn’t know it from his leaden performance in "Alvin and the Chipmunks," the latest in a series of Saturday morning TV cartoons lazily adapted for the big screen. Here, the "My Name Is Earl" star, whose spirited turn in "Mallrats" remains a feat of brazen beauty, seems distant and uninterested, though he can hardly be blamed.

Even with Lee and "Mr. Show" co-creator David Cross, who earns the film’s only laughs as a dryly disingenuous record executive hoping to capitalize on the Chipmunks’ musical talents, Tim Hill’s take on the long-dormant franchise never finds its comic footing. There are obvious sight gags milked for all their dubious worth — Alvin, Simon and Theodore, digitally rendered rodents with a passion for pop music and waffles, are skilled in the art of well-intentioned mischief and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. But there is precious little in the way of inspiration.

Naturally, the Chipmunks become embroiled in the cutthroat world of the music industry — no surprise there, given their propensity for high-pitched crooning. Dave (Lee), a struggling musician, encourages them to hone their songwriting skills in the comfort of his home studio; Ian (Cross) would rather market them as a boy band and sell them to the public through an all-out media blitz.

Will kids like it? Maybe. The musical numbers are virtually indistinguishable from the bubble-gum pop peddled so artlessly, and the Chipmunks have been retooled with a touch of modern-day attitude. But Alvin and the gang are hardly sophisticated enough to hold the attention of adults, even those weaned on the modestly amusing cartoon created half a century ago by songwriter Ross Bagdasarian.

Alvin and the Chipmunks *½

Starring Jason Lee, David Cross

Written by Jon Vitti, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi

Directed by Tim Hill

Rated PG

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
Pin It

Speaking of Entertainment

More by Staff Report

Latest in Other Arts

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018


Most Popular Stories

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation