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Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G)

Cast: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate, Justin Long

Release Date: December 16, 2011

Runtime: 1 hr. 27 mins.

Genre: Family

After surviving the sinking of their cruise ship, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore must survive on a Polynesian island.

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As with its two predecessors, the animated/live-action hybrid Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is positioned to open during the holiday season, when demand for family entertainment is high and standards are grievously low. How low, you ask? The first two episodes in the franchise, 2007's Alvin and the Chipmunks and 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel earned over $800 million worldwide combined. It hurt to write that last sentence.

You'd think such success would instill a certain pride of craftsmanship in the filmmakers, but almost everything about Chipwrecked suggests the opposite, from the hackneyed screenwriting to the lazy acting to the cheap-looking production design. The only aspect that truly impresses is the animation of the CG characters, who are crisp and detailed and vibrant a far cry from their human counterparts.

After sitting out much of the Squeakquel, Jason Lee, his schedule freed up following the cancellation of My Name Is Earl, returns as the Chipmunks' beleaguered manager, Dave Seville. Also back for another quick payday as the primary nemesis, Ian, is David Cross, no doubt ruing the three-picture contract he signed.

Dave, Ian, the Chipmunks, and their female counterparts, the Chipettes, are aboard a luxury cruise liner when a mishap triggered by the ever-disobedient Alvin (Justin Long) casts them overboard and onto a remote tropical island, where they embark on a series of sub-comic misadventures, finding time in between for the odd ear-splitting rendition of a contemporary pop tune. Songs covered include Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," Pink's "Trouble," Destiny's Child's "Survivor," Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair," and LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."

What's always amazed me about these films is the impressive roster of actors recruited to voice the Chipmunks and Chipettes including Long, Anna Faris, Amy Poehler, and Christina Applegate when digital helium added in post-production renders them all but unrecognizable. Aside from differences in pitch, the characters' voices are nearly indistinguishable from each other.

For those parents who find themselves forced to endure Chipwrecked, the best thing I can say about it is that it will keeps your child's brain occupied without doing serious damage to yours provided you don't get a concussion from repeated face-palming. rated this film 2 stars.


After surviving the sinking of their cruise ship, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore must survive on a Polynesian island.