Paramount // 1990 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // September 10th, 2008
"No matter who you are, you can be the star!"
It's hard to believe that Alvin and the Chipmunks ran for almost the entire span of the '80s, beginning back in 1983, starring in a feature film in '87, and then finally ending in 1990. Why on Earth did we put up with these little rascals for so long? Grammy-winning, eardrum-bursting parody songs aside, it's hard for me to make sense of why I liked them as a child -- and why there was a live action film made about them last year. Of course, these little guys have been around for decades, so clearly they're connecting with someone each generation.
Towards the end of their run on NBC in the late '80s, Alvin and the Chipmunks began releasing episodes under the title The Chipmunks Go To The Movies. Each episode was a parody a popular film, remade to fit the mold of children-friendly television. This DVD release, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom, features three episodes from the series -- along with the aforementioned Indiana Jones episode, the set contains Batman and Robocop episodes.
The title episode, "Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom," finds Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, along with the Chipettes, on a globe-trotting adventure to find half of the "Pearl of Wisdom." The episode combines plenty of elements from the Indiana Jones franchise, as well as some other crazy crap kids love, like ninjas.
The second episode, "Batmunk," features Simon as Batmunk, the caped crusader who must thwart the Jokester (played by Alvin) from spreading his stupid toys all over the city. Again, the episode is a slight parody of Tim Burton's Batman film, with plenty of clever names and strange action scenes. There is also a Chipmunk'd version of Kenny Loggins' song Danger Zone which, despite not fitting into the cartoon at all, is strangely hypnotizing to listen to.
Finally, there is "Robomunk," which is, you guessed it, a parody of Robocop. Why the writers thought it would be cool to turn the ultra-violent sci-fi film into a chipmunk romp is beyond me, but it sort of works. There is also a painful rendition of New Kids on the Block's Hangin' Tough.
With Indiana Jones and Batman both enjoying tremendous success this summer (and a new Robocop film in the works), it's clear why Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom is hitting the shelves. It's a little misleading, I think, to promote this as some sort of special Chipmunk release, when the main feature is only 20-some minutes long. On top of that, the video and audio quality on this show is pretty low. The colors are washed out, and the video is filthy; plus the already-cheap animation doesn't help. The sound, which comes in Dolby Digital Stereo, is tinny and shallow; which makes their already-high voices grate on your very soul.
If you have children who loved the recently released film version, Alvin and the Chipmunks, with Jason Lee, then they'll certainly love this DVD. I would assume that kids who saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Dark Knight, and picked up that new unrated edition of Robocop (I heard it was big with the 10-and-under crowd), will make the connection with this 18-year-old cartoon. I, however, found no nostalgic (or even ironic) value here. This one's strictly for the kids.
Review content copyright © 2008 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated