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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS

SYNOPSIS:
The three chipmunks, Alvin (voice of Justin Long), Simon Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney), enter the world of people when the tree they inhabit is chopped down and installed in a large shopping mall. They escape and end up in the home of down-on-his-luck songwriter Dave (Jason Lee). After almost destroying Dave's apartment, he tosses them out into the rainy night but has a change of heart when he hears them singing outside his window. He quickly writes them a song, takes it to his ex-schoolmate Ian (David Cross), now a major music industry executive, and in moments, the furry trio is the Next Big Thing. But Ian lures the Chipmunks away from Dave and works them 'til they drop ....

Review by Howie Green:
While watching the new version of Alvin and the Chipmunks, I kept thinking that if you simply replace the chipmunks with Garfield the cat and change the rodents' wrangler Dave to the morbidly obese feline's enabler, Jon Arbuckle, the movie could very easily have been the third live-action Garfield movie. Now I know why. Director Tim Hill, who helmed Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, also directs this new film about the singing rodents who first burst into pop culture over 50 years ago.

Last seen on the big screen in the 1987 animated flick The Chipmunk Adventure, this new movie nicely updates the chipmunks into the realm of CGI animation and seamlessly places them in the real world with Jason Lee as their songwriter buddy Dave and David Cross as Ian, the sleazy and slightly demented music company dude. Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and teen pop star Jesse McCartney provide the voices for the furry little critters, though due to the nature of the speeded-up voices, it's difficult to tell them apart and often impossible to tell what the heck the Chipmunks are even saying (and subtitles in a family film would be a no-no). But they sure are adorable.

The movie is a total kiddie flick and there is almost nothing here for adults. Jason Lee, best known as the karmic Johnny Appleseed on NBC's My Name Is Earl, manages to not embarrass himself and David Cross is his usual creepy and uncomfortable self, but all the adults take a back seat to the animated animals. The Chipmunks are endearing and well animated and the movie is bound to generate a lot of box office over the holidays (and inevitably, via sequels). In the end, though, Alvin and the Chipmunks is an hour-and-a-half of harmless fun but not much more.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (G)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch,

VOICES: Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney

PRODUCER: Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman, Steve Waterman

DIRECTOR: Tim Hill

SCRIPT: Jon Vitti, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Lyons Collister

EDITOR: Peter E. Berger

MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Holland

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2008

Howie Green is a Boston-based artist and painter whose portrait of rapper Biggie Smalls appears on the 2007 compliation album “Incredible.” He is a contributor to EdgeBoston.com, and is a self-described media slut who loves Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, ‘Star Wars’ and any movie where a car flies through the air, something big explodes and pretty people do nasty things.







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