Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
My sons, 7 and 9 years old, have been anticipating the release of The Squeakqual for months. They even had the release date circled on our family calendar. Equally hyping the release is my cousin’s sunglasses company, Kaenon Polarized. Simon is seen sporting a pair of my cousin’s custom designed and patented sunglasses in PR and advertising for the movie. Here is part of the email sent out by his company in regards to The Squeakquel:
KAENON’S SPINDLE FEATURED IN ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS “SQUEAKQUEL”
Nice Surprise…Opening nationwide on December 23rd just in time for the hoards of holiday movie-goers, we just noticed ads for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, The Squeakquel is featuring Kaenon Polarized’s semi-rimless metal sunglass frame – Spindle S3, G12 lens– in their huge national print and outdoor promotion campaign leading up to the opening! You’ll notice the film promoted everywhere over the coming weeks–on billboards, bus wraps, print and film promotions across the country with Simon sporting Spindle.
My sons and I enjoyed Alvin & the Chipmunks so much that we purchased it on DVD and have watched it several times. My younger son even admits that he is the human embodiment of Alvin: smart, sassy, mischievous and always causing bull-in-a-china-shop types of messes. My 9 year old is much like Simon: thoughtful, wears glasses and tries to keep Alvin’s ego in check. Since I live with the human versions of the chipmunks, I personally identify with their conflicts and mayhem, and The Squeakqual continues in the vain that these very special chipmunks are just animal brothers being raised by Jason Lee.
* A Personal note to Jason Lee: “Dear Jason Lee, you cancome over and help raise my chipmunks any time. Love, Victoria Simone Stewart AKA: your next co-star. “
Now back to the review.
Alvin & the Chipmunks ended with Dave Seville,
played by Jason Lee, accepting the idea of the
chipmunks as his adopted sons, an idea that took him the whole movie to warm up to. The Chipmunks were originally his meal ticket, his big break into the music industry, but realized he needed to be their father figure because the music industry is so corrupt and devoid of good role models.
In The Squeakquel Dave Seville is fully embracing and living up to his fatherly potential, and Alvin is living up to his causing-majorly-destructive-accidents behavior. I am not spoiling the movie by telling you that Alvin lands Dave in the hospital in the first ten minutes of the movie. The natural question to myself at this point is ‘did Jason Lee want too much money for The Squeakquel so he only appears in one-eighth of the movie to meet his salary demands?’ Or, ‘Was Jason Lee working on this movie and another at the same time which only allowed him a week or so of shooting time so he only appears in one-eighth of the movie?’ Or, “Is the character of Dave Seville one dimensional and that dimension was already explored in the last movie, so Dave could only play in one-eighth of this movie?’ “ Whatever the case, I saw less of Jason Lee than I would have liked.
The protagonist in The Squeakquel is Dave Seville’s socially awkward and immature nephew, Toby, played by Zachary Levi. Levi has done so few movies that he is not easily recognizable. His credits include an independent thriller called Spiral and Big Momma’s House 2. Hopefully The Squeakquel will launch his career. Levi is quite adorable and I could see why the producers might have made the decision to use Levi more than Lee, because he would appeal to younger adults. Levi’s youth also plays into part of the story line: the Chipmunks are enrolled in high school by Dave, the same high school Toby attended, and where Toby’s high school love interest is now the music teacher. What are the chances of that? Toby must learn to break out of his social awkwardness to express his feelings to his high school crush, and it helps that his Uncle’s adopted chipmunk children are “rock stars”.
I bought in to the entire story line, not just the chipmunks in high school, their father figure in the hospital and his nephew caring for them; but also that three singing girl chipmunks happen to turn up at Jet Records and locate the evil Ian Hawke so that they can meet “The Chipmunks” and become rock stars themselves. Ian Hawke dubs them “The Chipettes.”
The Chipettes are the female counterparts to Simon, Alvin and Theodore. I like the casting choices for the Chipettes: Simon’s counterpart, Jeanette is voiced by Anna Farris from TV’s SNL and Scary Movie 1,2,3,4 &5. Theodore’s counterpart, Eleanor is voiced by Amy Poehler from SNL, the TV show Parks and Rec and the movie Baby Momma. Alvin’s counterpart, Brittany is voiced by Christina Applegate known for her own TV show titled Samantha Who? and the cute but dumb blonde girl on the TV show Married with Children. If these three comedienes are also responsible for recording the Chipettes singing, I am really impressed. I think this to be true as no other names are mentioned in the credits as the singing Chipettes.
I enjoyed The Squeakquel more than Alvin & the Chipmunks because the story held a little more depth and the movie was more about the chipmunks’ relationships to each other as brothers and their relationships to the outside world/high school.
In High School, Alvin gets recruited for the football team, which I could have predicted since my Alvin personified son played Pop Warner football this year. The similarities are eerie, aren’t they? Being on the football team feeds Alvin’s ego and gives him a higher high-school-caste-system ranking than his brothers Simon and Theodore. This creates a riff in the family. Simon and Alvin engage in sibling arguments which causes uncertainty for Theodore, not knowing if the family will stay in tact. The typical high school bullying of nerds (Simon) by jocks (the football team captain) is also explored. To me, the story seemed as true to life as a film about singing chipmunks attending high school in Los Angeles can get.
I did spot my cousin’s custom designed and patented sunglasses in one scene, sitting on the living room coffee table with the distinct bright orange Kaenon sunglasses case next to them. The other movie goers probably think I’m a little crazy for pointing to the screen and whispering excitedly, “there they are, see ‘em?” in the middle of an exchange between the chipmunks and Toby. Product placement in a movie is a pretty big deal and the only other brand names I saw in the movie were the Nike swoosh on the football player’s uniforms and Utz cheese balls being consumed by the chipmunks. Its nice that the producers of The Squeakquel didn’t participate in the “covertly pushing name brands on young kids” racket.
As always, the Chipmunks sing some bootie shaking tunes and so do the Chipettes. The soundtrack may be worth purchasing if you have the tolerance for helium induced voices singing bubble gum rock.
My father, may he rest in peace, was a very big fan of David Seville and the original hula-hooping Chipmunks of the mid-century. He even owned one of their records. I think he would have really enjoyed the reincarnation the Chipmunks as modern day hip-hop teenagers, especially since they so closely resemble his own grandsons.