Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy / Family
Fox || PG - 88 minutes - $39.99 || March 30, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-02


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Betty Thomas
Writer(s): Jon Vitti and Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger (written by)
Cast: Zachary Levi, David Cross, Jason Lee, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate


Theatrical Release Date: December 23, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 8 Featurettes
  • Music Videos
  • Trivia Track
  • Album Maker
  • BD-Live
  • DVD Copy
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Normally I don’t jump into a sequel without seeing the original first, but I felt I didn’t need to know a heck a lot about three singing and annoying rodents, do I? Thankfully, this “Squeakquel” (*groan*) does manage to clue the clueless into the prior events and why David Cross is the primary villain. It doesn’t quite answer why the brilliantly funny David Cross is in this, but I digress...

Alvin 2 (why bother with the full title?) finds the singing sensations find themselves doing a “Save the Music” benefit during which Alvin, in his showboating best, causing their caretaker David (JASON LEE) to be in the hospital with multiple injuries. So now Alvin (JUSTIN LONG), Simon (MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER) and Theodore (JESSE MCCARTNEY) are sent home to be taken care of by their dear aunt until she too is injured, after which Toby (ZACHARY LEVI) – her lazy unemployed/gamer son – takes responsibility.

Per David’s wishes, the Chipmunks are sent to public school where the entire time they cause trouble rather than actually learning anything. If I were a cynical man, I would think this was a lazy plot device... ah, naaah, get that silliness out of your head. After dealing with the clichéd jock football players and causing mayhem, the school principal (WENDIE MALICK) asks if they would represent the school in a music contest that would give the much needed $25,000 to save the school’s music program. They, of course, agree.

Meanwhile, the greedy Ian (DAVID CROSS), still reeling from those rodents putting him out of a job, gets a gift in the Chipettes who came in via a well placed FedEx (shout out to my FedEx delivery man, by the way!) product placement package, logo and all. The girl singing sensations include Brittany (CHRISTINA APPLEGATE), Jeanette (ANNA FARIS) and Eleanor (AMY POEHLER). Ian decides to use them to get back on top and finds the perfect opportunity upon discovering the Chipmunks involvement in the school contest and enrolls them so they may compete. Ian gets it into the Chipettes’ minds that the Chipmunks did him wrong and thus the girls, despite their infatuation, will not trust the boys.

** Major Spoilers. In my sardonic tone, I outline what happens **

You get the gist of what will happen: girls become more popular, the Chipmunks start fighting, the bad guy gets his comeuppance and in the end the Chipmunks and Chipettes work together. Oh, I completely forgot about the awful and thin side character story in which Toby sees his high school crush (played by cutie ANJELAH JOHNSON) and she apparently has the same feeling for the dumb ass for some odd reason. I won’t tell you if he gets the girl in some lame fashion, but you can guess that as well.

** End Spoilers **

In spite of my sarcastic remarks, I will say that Alvin 2 is basically a harmless family movie. Are the Chipmunks (and Chipettes) annoying beyond all reason? Absolutely; I never could stand them when the music would come on the radio during Christmas and them singing some more modern hits doesn’t help much either. That said, this is an OK movie that you can show your kids if and only if they grow tired of any of the number of Pixar movies, though I also know they want to see the latest and this probably fits.

I have to wonder why exactly someone as talented and funny as Justin Long was needed as the voice of Alvin. First, you can’t even recognize him (and Matthew Gray Gubler from “Criminal Minds” or Jess McCartney for that matter) and second the comedy timing isn’t the same in animation as it is live action since it is all about the voice inflection with the animation itself taking over a good portion of the performance.

The live action supporting cast includes David Cross making his return as the villain, the cute and funny ex-“MadTV” member Anjelah Johnson and Jason Lee who appears in the first few minutes and only appears towards the end for a grand total of 10-minutes of screen time (if that). The caretaker role went to “Chuck” star Zachary Levi who provides some genuine funny moments here and there, but given it is about those high-pitched rodents, it doesn’t amount to a whole lot.

On a side note, the film was directed by Betty Thomas who previously helmed some decent comedies like The Brady Bunch Movie, Private Parts and the aptly relevant TV movie The Late Shift. Of course, she also was behind the camera for Doctor Dolittle, I Spy and John Tucker Must Die. I can’t place too much blame on Ms. Thomas for this mess mainly because how much can you do? I think with a better developed screenplay (writers on “King of the Hill”), this might’ve made for a passable family comedy.

Alvin 2, in the end, is a safe family comedy. Having not seen the original, I can’t say how it compares but for me it barely passes mustard for the genre.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray comes with a shiny slip cover and 3-discs housed in a standard BD case.

‘Munk Music Machine (10:57; HD) is just a feature that takes you to the music scenes from the movie. They add in a little extra animation to go in front of the scenes for whatever reason.

Music in a Nutshell: Song Trivia – As you would expect this is a pop-up trivia track that plays with the movie where you can learn about the various featured songs and the artists who originally performed them. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

A-l-v-i-n-n-n-n!!! Album Maker (HD) where you can build your own music collection. I gave it a shot but decided it wasn’t worth the time or effort, so good luck to the kids... From what I could tell, it is something you can save and presumably put online (though don’t quote me on that). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Munking History: 50 Years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem and Music (9:21; HD) – This is a short look at the Chipmunks and their origins from their singing days to animated form on “The Alvin Show”. This really isn’t anything that fascinating, but I guess it’s OK as a Cliff’s Notes.

There are also a few other short featurettes that could’ve all been combined into “Munking History” to make one longer ‘making of’:

Meet the Chipettes (8:37; HD) introduces (or re-introduces) us to the female Chipmunks and the actresses who voiced them; Rockin’ Rising Stars (6:21; HD) takes a look at the rock band (High Society) and singer (Charice Pempengco) used in the movie; Music Mania (9:04) goes over shooting the musical numbers which can be difficult since the Chipmunks and Chipettes are CGI.

The Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking (9:40; HD) gives us much needed insight into the Chipmunks in this mock VH1-like documentary.

A-NUT-omy of a Scene (2:39; HD) – Yet another clever titled feature, the featurette looks at how a scene was done from using stuffed animals to animation and CGI for the final shot. In the same vein is Meet the Stuffies! (3:09; HD), which are the stuff animals used as stand-ins and help the actors and director for eye lines. Also, like the “Behind the Squaking”, it’s taken seriously for comedic effect.

Shake Your Groove Thing with Rosero (8:59; HD) gives us dance lessons from the movie’s chorographer.

Next are some Music Videos (TRT 16:05; HD) with optional sing-a-longs.

Under Live Extras (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) we get Live Lookup where we get instant access to up-to-date actor filmographies from Alvin 2 from IMDb, and two Deleted Scenes (HD) entitled “Chipettes Land” (0:33) and “Poopy Pudding” (0:46). Don’t know if they merely forgot to put them on the disc or what, but there you go. And there’s also a theatrical trailer (0:51) available via BD-Live.

The Blu-ray set also includes a DVD Copy and Digital Copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) compatible with iTunes. And there are previews (before the movie) for Marmaduke, Avatar and a direct-to-DVD sequel to Marley & Me and sneak peeks at Tooth Fairy and Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Alvin 2 is presented in its original 1.85 aspect ratio and on Blu-ray, in 1080p high-definition. While the movie might not be much, the picture itself looks good in HD. The crispness and details are nice from the tiny animated hairs on the rodents to the skin tones on the live action humans everything has texture that probably is close to what was seen in theaters. You get discernable amounts of noise here and there but it only helps rather than what certain studios do on their catalogue titles to make it look clean. This may not be the best looking Blu-ray, but I was fairly impressed overall.

Meanwhile, Fox’s standard DTS-HD Master Audio mix isn’t anything special especially considering the best parts involve the Chipmunks singing and all, but at the same time the other moments of normal human-driven dialogue does sound clear enough. The other channels never seemed to get a whole lot of action (outside of the music), so I can’t say it’s a great track but certainly in the acceptable realm by Blu-ray standards (and better than DVD).



.::OVERALL::.

Although I wasn’t wild about Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squakquel (there, I did the entire title), it is a harmless enough movie that I think even the adults can tolerate watching with their kids. The Blu-ray, however, offers up a nice looking video and acceptable/good audio while the features are kid friendly and more than likely made for kids rather than the adults.