DVD Release Date:  April 1, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  December 14, 2007
Rating:  PG (for mild peril and rude humor)
Genre:  Animation/Drama
Run Time:  88 minutes
Director:  Tim Hill
Actors:  Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney

What’s a sure way to boost an ailing music career?  Find three adorable, singing chipmunks and put out a smash-hit-chart-topping Christmas album!  But watch out because your house will certainly suffer, and singing adolescent rodents advancing to stardom definitely come with their own unique challenges. 

This is the setting for Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is (according to my very knowledgeable five-and-seven-year-old favorite sibling movie critic friends) a “really, really great and funny movie.”

But you may want to know how Alvin (Justin Long), Theodore (Jesse McCartney), and Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) get to Dave the musician’s house in the first place.  Well, it all starts in the forest.  The chipmunks are happily collecting and storing nuts when they hear a loud buzzing sound.  It’s a chainsaw cutting down their home to turn it into a Christmas tree!  All three chipmunks fall into a truck and are carried off to the stately lobby of an important record company—the same company where Dave (Jason Lee) has just met with his manager, Ian (David Cross), who has just rudely rejected his last lame song.

As Dave is leaving with a basket of muffins, Alvin and his buddies grab their opportunity.  They sneak into the basket and soon find themselves inside Dave’s house.  After some hilarious shenanigans in the kitchen, Dave realizes that he has very messy, very irritating talking chipmunks as his guests.  He’s about to toss them into the woods when they pull out all the stops and demonstrate their amazing singing talent.  A light bulb goes off in Dave’s head.  Too bad he just angrily tossed all his instruments and recording gear into the yard!

Alvin and friends help him dry everything off, and soon the foursome is happily picking out an amazing tune.  The next day, Dave excitedly takes in his new buddies to see Ian, but the rodents have suddenly become shy and don’t let out a peep.  Dejectedly, Dave takes them all home, once again planning to get rid of the not-so-welcome or even helpful guests, though he changes his mind at the last minute.  He says they can stay, but they have to abide by his rules—“mean” rules like going to bed on time, cleaning up after themselves, and not eating junk food.  After all, they could really spoil things with his already-shaky relationship with pretty neighbor Claire (Cameron Richardson).

When they see Dave’s increasing dejection, the furry little guys have compassion on their host and come up with a scheme to get to Ian‘s house themselves, which they do, and they show off their best harmonizing to the big boss.  He smiles as his eyes gleam with dollar signs, and the next several months become a blur of excitement.  The chipmunks get cool outfits, some rocking show biz choreography and a sweet recording deal that has them traveling the country on a whirlwind tour to stardom. 

However, just like human stars, the three talented rodents suddenly get a big head (I think Paris Hilton calls it TMTS:  “Too much too soon”).  “Uncle Ian” starts convincing them that life with Dave is too repressive, and he invites them to move into his no-rules mansion with him, where he can “better manage their careers.” 

Unfortunately, the little stars didn’t see “Uncle Ian’s” dark underbelly, and soon they find themselves waaaay over their heads and completely exhausted.  They have to wonder …  will Dave find and rescue them, or does he even care?

Alvin and the Chipmunks is adorable, and it’s even fun for adults to watch the combination of live action and stellar animation.  With it’s sweet story that has tons of humor, romance, and even a memorable moral, it’s a delightful holiday movie for the whole family.

There are only a few elements that may make some parents cringe, however.  Scatological humor is the first.  There are several portrayals of bodily noises and functions, and at one point in the movie, Dave is chastising one of the chipmunks for leaving what looks like a “dropping” on the couch.  Another chipmunk insists it’s a raisin, and Dave makes him eat it.  As soon as Dave leaves the room, he spews the item in question across the room and screams, “You owe me—big time!”

The other cringe factor occurs when the chipmunks are touring the country with their new album.  Their back-up dancers are girls whose pudgy, exposed bellies are gyrating under their way-too-short-and-tight blouses.  Why is this the style lately?  Have all these girls no mothers?

Other than that, Alvin and the Chipmunks is truly a “really, really great and funny movie” that kids of all ages will not want to miss this Christmas. 

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language:  None, though there are a few lightly crass comments and some scatological humor.
  • Sex:  None, but girls with exposed bellies gyrate on stage.
  • Violence:  Light, slapstick, cartoon violence.
  • Worldview:  Moral, with clear lesson on which kind of parent kids really need.