Case Number 23637: Small Claims Court


Fox // 2011 // 187 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 8th, 2012

The Charge

They're gonna ROCK the boat!

The Case

Alvin, Simon and Theodore -- along with their female counterparts, The Chipettes -- head off on an oceanic cruise with their exasperated manager, Dave Seville (Jason Lee, My Name is Earl). On the cruise, Alvin acts like the annoying rodent he is by creating absolute havoc. The ship's captain warns Dave if The Chipmunks screw up one more time, they'll all get booted off the luxury liner. Compounding matters is the discovery that Ian (David Cross, Arrested Development), a slimy ex-music exec from the previous films, is also on the cruise working as a pelican mascot with a grudge against Dave. When Alvin and the rest of the chipmunks accidentally sail off the ship on a runaway kite, Dave and Ian give chase only to find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean. Alvin and company end up on one side of a remote island, while Dave and Ian land on the other side. Will Dave locate his precious singing group? Can The Chipmunks survive such harsh, tropical conditions? Don't you have better things to do with your time than sit through slop like this?

In a year that saw the release of Adam Sandler's Razzie award breaking Jack & Jill, it seems hard to believe there's a movie which can top that cinematic turd. Yet lo and behold, I present to you: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. The first Alvin and the Chipmunks was universally panned (26% on Rotten Tomatoes), while the second film garnered even worse reviews (a measly 21%). The third installment managed to amass an even lower score: 13%. If they release a fourth movie, Rotten Tomatoes will need to start incorporating negative numbers.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked isn't terrible in the traditional sense; the production values are rather high and the film is competently constructed and polished. Where it stumbles like a hobbled marathon runner is in the execution of story and character. The movie bounces from one sequence to another (usually accompanied by annoying musical interludes) without any real sense of purpose. The Chipmunks are shipwrecked on an island only so we can watch them build fires and make friends with the locals. Then they have to be rescued. This adventure has no reason for being. It feels as if the script was two pages long with a lot of spots that read "insert montage here." It's like watching a dog walk from one end of the street to the other. We know something happened, but it's of little interest or consequence to anyone who witnessed it.

I would give one year's salary to find out what drew actors like Justin Long (He's Just Not That Into You), Christina Applegate (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), and Anna Faris (What's Your Number?) to this project. What's the point of having big named stars in a movie if...a) they're not going to show their faces, and b) they're going to tweak their voices in a way that makes them 100% unidentifiable to anyone other than the editors? Jason Lee looks absolutely mortified to be here. Lee is a funny, likable actor who clearly wanted to buy another house in the mountains; why else would he take on a role that has all the charisma of sour yogurt? Jenny Slate (best know as the one time Saturday Night Live player who said the "F" word during her introductory moments on the show) is a stranded islander (ala Tom Hanks in Cast Away) who spend her time dancing in front of a green screen and talking to sports equipment painted with faces. The good news is her acting career has nowhere to go but up.

The computer effects that bring Alvin, Simon, and Theodore to life are serviceable, but never remotely convincing or fun to watch. Clearly this was a rush job for whatever VFX house worked on the film, and little else. And then...*insert ominous music cue here*...there's the musical numbers. Oh, the terrible, terrible songs displayed in this movie! Here's the thing about the musical interludes: it's bad enough to hear Beyonce songs sung poorly. It's a whole other beast to hear them sung poorly in screechy, high pitched chipmunk voices. Like nails on a chalkboard, the songs in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked grate the nerves within thirty seconds. Little kids will surly enjoy the novelty of The Chipmunk's vocals, but adults will run screaming from the room.

Finally, David Cross shows up as a character named Ian who I assume passed on representing The Chipmunks, The Chipettes, and Justin Bieber...twice! I don't know what his role was in the previous films, but Cross has gone on record to say that Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked was "the most unpleasant experience of my professional life." I can understand why. This film is a void that cannot be filled.

Presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, at least viewers get a bright attractive transfer, with an image that's sparkling clean and colorful. I was impressed with how blue the ocean looked, perhaps the only thing the filmmakers got right in the entire film. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio does more than enough to destroy your eardrums with chipmunk vocals. And if English isn't enough, you can watch the film again with Dolby 5.1 French and Spanish language tracks. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available.

Pondering a question that has been plaguing movie fans since the advent of digital media: Why is it so many classic movies are given bare bones releases, while crap like Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked are packed with bonus features? Viewers can troll through a boatload of extras including: some extended scenes, a batch of behind-the-scenes featurettes ("Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Jason Lee," "Going Overboard," "Munking Movies in Paradise," "Everybody Munk Now," "Alan Tudyk, Chipmunk Apprentice"), a featurette with the son of Alvin and the Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian ("Growing Up Alvin"), a "Munk Music & Dance Machine" game for kids to play, three music videos, some promotional material, BD-Live content, a standard definition DVD copy, and a digital copy for your portable devices.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked doesn't have an ounce of originality, wit, or enjoyment in its nearly hour and a half run time. This is an empty experience that will have the youngest kids entertained and the rest of the viewing audience lost at sea.

The Verdict

What's the verdict? Well, just look at the packaging -- Alvin with sunglasses and his hat turned sideways, gangster-style -- and try to tell me it doesn't make you want to punch this disc right in its face. Case closed.

Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 40

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 187 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated G

Distinguishing Marks
* Extended Scenes
* Featurettes
* Dancing Game
* Trailers
* BD-Live
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy

* IMDb

* Official Site