The Chipmunk Adventure
Director: Janice Karman
Writers: Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Ross Bagdasarian
Voice Cast: Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman, Dody Goodman, Susan Tyrrell, Anthony De Longis, Frank Welker, Nancy Cartwright, Philip L. Clarke, Ken Sansom, George Poulos, Charles Adler, Patrick Pinney
Synopsis: The Chipmunks compete with the Chipettes in a round the world race.
MPAA Rating: G
Note: In honor of the upcoming "Alvin and the Chipmunks" sequel that came out this year, I have taken it upon myself to review all the remaining "Alvin and the Chipmunks" theatrically released films; with the notable exception of "Alvin and the Chipmunks Squakquel" and "Chipwrecked" because I already reviewed them ages ago.
Stevennix2001's Rating and Summary Review if you don't want to read the whole thing
3 / 10
- Animation is nice. Definitely a huge upgrade in quality from the original 80's show it's based on. Plus, I loved the elaborate background designs for the various countries they showed.
- Songs are still crappy, but they're a lot better than most of the songs played during the 80's show.
- Characters are stagnant, bland and often fall into being generic stereotypes.
- Hardly any character development, which makes it hard to root for any of the characters.
- The way the Chippettes are often sexualized throughout this movie is a bit disturbing considering they're supposed to be preteens. Of course, you could argue they do the exact same thing to Alvin and his brothers at one point in the film, but that doesn't make it less creepy.
But then again, they did show the Chippettes topless once in an episode, so we shouldn't be surprised that the animators of this film would take it that far....
NOT trying to justify it or anything. Just pointing that out.
- Songs are corny and annoying.
- Some of the animation is inconsistent. For example during the "boys and girls of rock and roll" song, it shows the boys walking up the stairs to face the Chippettes eye to eye. As you see them march, it looks like once they get to the top that Theodore would end up being the one facing Jeannette. But once they reach the top to face them, it's Simon that ends up facing her, as he somehow magically moved from the far left of the group to the far right just to face her. Oh well. I guess they wanted the the Chipmunks to face each of their female rip off counterparts eye to eye.
- All the countries they visit are immediately flanderized with generic cliched stereotypes, which would put the black crows from "Dumbo" to shame.
- The film goes by way too quickly before we can even get to know any of the new characters they introduce. Let alone care about any of them.
Well I'm going to hell for watching this scene again....
"The Chipmunk Adventure" aka the animated Chipmunks' version of "Around the World in 80 Days"
At the risk of showing my age here, I still remember the days when "Alvin and the Chipmunks" was such a moderate success on Saturday mornings. Ah yes, I still recall the days of watching shows like that, along with "Transformers", "He-Man" and etc. Those were certainly the days. And since I'm a child of the eighties, it shouldn't be all that surprising that I did watch this movie a lot, when I was growing up. Like "Transformers: The Movie" and "Space Jam", I loved the film when I was younger, but over the years I've come to realize how utterly flawed it is.
The story is fairly straight forward. After Dave leaves to go on a business trip, Alvin and the chipmunks get into another bulls*** competition with the chippettes on who's better. A wealthy couple hears their argument, and they decide to dupe our protagonists into participating in an elaborate jewelry smuggling ring disguised as a racing competition around the world.
Against Simon's wishes, our heroes end up going on this trip anyway. Cue in all the chipmunk versionized pop songs of the 80's era, and a few inappropriate ones as well. For instance, we have one song where the chippettes are singing "Getting Lucky with you" to a bunch of snakes that become charmed by them. Granted, you could blow it off as it being nothing to worry about, but the scene takes it a bit further by having them don harem outfits that leave little to the imagination. Take in mind folks. These girls are supposed to be anthropomorphic preteens, yet we see a lot of scenes where these girls are either barely clothed half the time, or we see tons of shots of their panties. Granted, they do the same thing with Alvin and his brothers eventually during the movie, but that doesn't make it any less creepy.
When i saw this movie as a kid, I never really thought about it that deeply. Similar to how I never saw anything wrong with Pepe Le Pew constantly making advances to a cat that never wanted his affections, in various Looney Tunes shorts. At the time, I just thought it was funny how Pepe would always harass her with unwanted kisses and affections. As an adult, I wouldn't want any child to watch Pepe Le Pew cartoons, as it almost feels like it supports a pro rape mentality. It's kind of the same case here with this film.
As a child, I just never thought about it because I was more enamored by the journey of these characters than anything, and I used to love hearing these chipmunk versionized songs, when I was younger. Granted, I think all the songs are shit now, but still. The point is that some of the imagery of the characters walking around barely clothed is a bit disturbing. when you consider the fact that they're supposed to be preteens, which makes you wonder what the hell the animators were thinking at the time.
Disturbing images aside though, the Chipmunks and Chippettes travel all around the world via hot air balloons, which is sort of a homage to the classic, "Around the World in 80 Days." They inevitably discover the jewelry scam they were duped into. Dave somehow gets involved, and you pretty much know what happens from there.
For the most part, the movie is very forgettable, as it features a weak story filled with cliches and generic tropes that you could find in a million other kids' movies. Stereotypical generic bad guys conning a bunch of kids. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. Nope, they're just bunch of greedy pricks.
As they travel around the world, you see some of the most generic stereotypes of various cultures. But then again, this was before the US got crazy about being politically correct.
While I'll admit this movie does put more effort into it's overall arching story than the live action films that came out years later, it's still not a very good movie. The problem stems from the fact that the source material itself was horrible to begin with.
At the risk of pissing off die hard fans of this franchise, I have to be honest. Although I used to love watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks" as a kid, I find them poorly written and ill contrived as an adult. Apart from the original Christmas special that featured Alvin giving up his harmonica, the rest of the episodes often rely on the same damn generic tropes and stereotypes that most TV sitcoms rely on that often make them seem more boring and cliched than original and nuanced.
Granted, some TV shows can get away with it (i.e. "Friends", "Big Bang Theory" and etc), but that's mainly because the characters are well written. Hell even stagnant characters tend to grow a little bit like Sheldon Cooper (from the "Big Bang Theory") for instance. He was originally portrayed as a super genius that was against romantic relationships, but we recently got an episode years later of him sleeping with a girl that he loves? But the crazy thing is he's still the same socially awkward super nerd we've always known from the beginning.
But unlike most today's shows, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" never developed any of their characters in the original series. Sure, they'll learn a lesson or two, and that's fine. However, that same lesson will quickly be forgotten by the next episode. Alvin will continue to be a royal pain in the a**. Dave will continue to naively fall for Alvin's shenanigans, while Simon and Theodore will continue being hapless stooges that know better, but they'll continue to go along with it anyway for plot convenience.
Hell, the animated movie itself doesn't even try to hide this fact either. At the end of the damn film itself, both Brittany and Alvin still end up arguing on who's better between the boys and girls, even though it was their stupid bickering that landed them in that jewelry scam to begin with. It even ends with Dave yelling, "Alviiiiiin!" , at the end before the credits roll. As a kid, I just thought that moment was funny, but as an adult, it seems fairly obvious the characters didn't learn anything from their experience. And, it makes you wonder if the characters don't learn from their mistakes, then why the hell should we be invested into them?
Granted, I know most eighties cartoons were like this, so I'm not singling "Alvin and the Chipmunks" out here. And if this had been a three part episode of the regular series, then it might've gotten away with it. However, when you consider the fact that you had other great animated films around the time this one came out like "Land Before Time", "An American Tail" and etc, then it becomes fairly obvious that "The Chipmunk Adventure" doesn't hold up that well, and with good reason.
Unlike those other films I just mentioned, "The Chipmunk Adventure" doesn't have great character development, nor does it give you anything you haven't seen in the original 80's show; apart from better animation and songs. At least in the first "Land Before Time", you felt what the characters were going through. You got a sense that Little Foot himself grew up mentally throughout his journey, which is one of the main reasons you felt invested into his character because you wanted to see him grow and succeed.
In this freaking movie, you never get a sense that Alvin or any of the characters grow or develop. If anything, you get the impression that they didn't learn jack s*** from their journey, which makes it feel like it was a complete waste of everyone's time.
Unless you're just die hard fan of this franchise that wants to check out this movie for nostalgia purposes, then I'd avoid this one completely. This is one of those rare animated films that I used to love that I find myself questioning...why? Why the f*** would any sane person like this film? It's a piece of crap. Granted, it's Oscar worthy in comparison to those live action abominations that came out years later, but still. That's like saying vomit smells better than feces, so that's not saying a lot.
© 2015 Steven Escareno
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