Let’s be clear – Mike Mitchell’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), which features the vocal talents of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, was never going to be a contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Yet the third entry in the now bi-annual film event stormed into cinemas just before Christmas last year, taking over $130 million at the US box office alone. Though by no means a gem of children’s cinema, Mitchell’s comedy isn’t the disaster one might expect.
Alvin (Long) and his brothers Simon (Gray Gubler) and Theodore (McCartney) – who make up the all-singing, all-dancing pop sensation ‘The Chipmunks’ along with their back-up girl group ‘The Chipettes’, Eleanor, Jeanette and Brittany (Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate) – are on a cruise with their ‘father’ Dave (Jason Lee). Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Alvin is up to mischief, resulting in the team falling overboard and being washed up on a deserted island – which is only the start of their problems.
Any adult out there would probably want to hate this film before it even starts – its the kind of thing you are only likely to see if you have kids under the age of five, or watch films for a living. However, you shouldn’t dismiss it quite so quickly as, if you’re prepared to switch your brain off for an hour-and-a-half, this loud and brash cartoon caper isn’t actually that bad.
Though Alvin and his friends are the artificial characters of the film, they often appear more animated than the humans, with a surprisingly good sense of characterisation and depth for a group of CGI rodents. Add to this some catchy song and dance numbers which kids are bound to enjoy, and the whole outing is far from being a total washout. The extras, including a interview with the production staff who they discuss the difficulties of working with Alvin and co as if they’re actual humans, are an original and diverting addition to the main feature.
Adults are still unlikely to come across Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked without the aforementioned excuse of small children or job requirements. But those that do actually might – however secretly – end up enjoying it.