Even the most open-minded moviegoer will struggle to find a reason to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, the big screen, live action adaptation of the semi-popular cartoon series. It’s baffling to think why 20th Century Fox would even give the movie a green light in the first place. Was anyone out there really demanding this movie be made? Then again, Fox was the same studio that distributed Garfield: The Movie, which was also about a CGI animal brought to life from a cartoon, and that turned out to be a surprise hit. Could Alvin, Simon and Theodore (doot, doot, d-d-d-doot) have the same luck?
Not likely. The three troublemaking rodents aren’t as memorable or witty as Garfield, and besides being chipmunks, their only other catch was that they played in a rock band. The movie will pretty much follow the same formula, right down to giving the chipmunks an adopted father named Dave, played by Jason Lee. You have to figure, though, that any human role in the movie probably wasn’t filled because of acting skills.
For a premise that’s extremely old, and with a reported budget of $70 million, Fox is taking a big gamble on this one. The intended audience for Alvin and the Chipmunks isn’t even old enough to remember (or old enough to have heard of) the '80s cartoon series, which was cute and playful but far from groundbreaking. With New Line’s The Golden Compass opening a week earlier and Columbia’s The Water Horse not far behind, Alvin and the Chipmunks, with its crude humor, won’t be the first choice on families’ movie lists this holiday season. Somehow, the idea of CGI chipmunks wearing hoodies doesn’t spark that much interest. Don’t look for any kind of plot to bring this movie together, either, just standard hijinks and poop jokes from its three titular characters.
Garfield may have grossed $75 million domestically and over $200 million worldwide, but it had the advantage of being about a lasagna-eating cat who was already part of America’s collective consciousness, and it was released in the summertime, when parents are willing to take their kids to see anything. The holidays are more selective, and with much more direct competition, look for these chipmunks to be shooed away from theaters before you can say “Alvin!” (Matthew Huntley/BOP)