Judge Clark Douglas now knows that to "go to the movies" means "play a VHS tape in the kitchen." Oh. Well, that should save him some money.
"Let's watch a movie!"
Have you ever wanted to see such 1980s film favorites as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Back to the Future, and Big in an animated form? Have you ever wanted to see those animated films star animated chipmunks instead of humans? Would you prefer it if the movies were a whole lot shorter? Say, 22 minutes each? I thought so! Well, I am pleased to inform you that you are in luck. Check out three episodes of one of the most prestigious television programs of all time, Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies!
The three episodes are all included on one disc:
• "Funny…We Shrunk the Adults": Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (referred to as "The Chipmunks" when they are together, which is always) start messing around with some high-tech equipment, and accidentally shrink Dave and poor old Mrs. Miller. Suddenly, these little Chipmunks are Bigmunks, at least in the eyes of Tiny Dave. Can the shrinking process be reversed?
• "Bigger": Alvin makes a wish at a magic jukebox and suddenly becomes a grown-up. The Chipmunks use Alvin's new status as an adult to attend a concert by a group of female chipmunks called "The Babes." Alvin winds up landing a job as the director of the group's music videos, but he quickly discovers that being a grown-up is a big responsibility.
• "Back to Our Future": In this show's equivalent of Charlie Kaufman territory, the chipmunks go back in time visit the original incarnations of themselves from the 1950s. They have to offer encouragement to "the old Alvin," who is considering quitting his musical career, which will turn the famous modern chipmunks into nobodies. Oh, the horror!
The Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies episodes have not aged quite as well as the standard-issue Alvin and the Chipmunks shows, partially because of the movies chosen. Everything on this particular disc is a spoof of films from the 1980s, but the inclusion of pop-culture references do add an amusingly dated quality to the show. "Cowabunga, dude! You know Paula Abdul? She is SO awesome!" Despite the fact that these episodes are about as outdated as Teddy Ruxpin, they still have a modestly high nostalgia factor that fans of that horrifying era known as "the '80s" will enjoy. Of the three episodes here, my favorite was "Back to Our Future," which gently and warmly contrasts the original concept of the Chipmunks with their evolved counterparts. Another good one is "Bigger," which offers up a rather entertaining little satire of the music business far more successfully than the recent Alvin and the Chipmunks feature film. All the shows are reasonably bright and energetic, and I imagine young kids will appreciate their colorful energy while older Chipmunks fans will enjoy re-visiting the furry heroes of their youth.
The Chipmunks are perhaps best known for their high-pitched singing, and they take regular musical breaks over the course of this show. That reminds me, you haven't lived until you've heard Alvin and the Chipmunks sing Randy Newman's "Short People." Or maybe it's that you won't want to live after you've heard them sing it. All kidding aside, the songs are perfectly pleasant and entertaining…if you're a 5-year-old living in 1986. No, but seriously…okay, well, they actually are pretty bad. But I suspect that anyone who buys this DVD will love them, anyway. Nobody likes The Chipmunks for artistic reasons (though I'd love to get an e-mail explaining why, if you do), people like The Chipmunks because they are cute, good-natured, and speak/sing in high-pitched squeaks.
Unfortunately for Chipmunk fans, the video and audio quality is far from pristine here. The print is slightly damaged in quite a few sections, with a lot of little scratches. Audio is also slightly damaged, with the small synthesizer score and the songs suffering in particular. The DVD doesn't offer anything in the way of extras either, making this a very disappointing overall presentation.
The recent release of the massively successful Alvin and the Chipmunks film emphatically confirmed that there are still a whole bunch of Chipmunk lovers out there. If you were a fan of that movie, there's no reason that you shouldn't enjoy this particular batch of episodes. While I'd personally recommend some of the non-movie themed DVD releases over this particular disc, this is inoffensive Saturday morning fluff that Chipmunk fans will undoubtedly be tickled to have. The shows themselves are not guilty, but whoever put this DVD together is sentenced to put more effort into restoring these episodes in the future.
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