Other than nostalgia-craving grandparents who want to introduce their offspring to the novelty music act sensation of 1958, it’s hard to imagine an audience for “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”
This CGI and live-action jumble of shrill slapstick and cloying sentimentality will grate on people who no longer tell their age by holding up fingers. And for those inside the age limit, it’s overlong, overplotted and full of music business satire that’s pitched over the audience’s precious little heads. “Hey, Billy. That lip-synch subplot in 'Alvin’? Totally Ashlee Simpson!”
Dave Seville (Jason Lee) is a struggling tunesmith whose output of dirgelike love songs gets him tossed to the curb by Ian (David Cross), his onetime college pal, now a music executive of smarmy nefariousness. The answer to Dave’s problem arrives when harmonizing rodents Alvin, Simon and Theodore invade his home.
Yanking the heartstrings so insistently that they threaten to snap off the fretboard, Alvin sets up the furry newcomers as a surrogate family for commitment-phobic Dave. Although they disrupt his life with zany high jinks, they kindle a fatherly glow in his heart. He guides the brothers’ music career with straight talk and sensible savings-bond investments; the evil recording mogul lures them into his clutches with toys galore and puts them on a grueling tour.
In one of many tone-deaf touches, the chipmunks’ insufferably cutesy performances attract not grade-schoolers, but slick twentysomething scenesters who gyrate enthusiastically to moldy oldies, including “Christmas, Don’t Be Late,” “Witch Doctor” and “Funkytown.” The original recordings of Alvin were among the lowest moments in the history of popular culture. This soulless rehash, with its fart and poop jokes, proves that even one-note wonders can be diminished.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186