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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 2, 2009
Movie Review

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Alvin and the Chipmunks MOVIE POSTERALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 2
Movie Reviews

Directed by Betty Thomas
Starring: Jason Lee, Zachary Levi, Drew Barrymore, Christina Applegate, Anna Farris, Justin Long, David Cross, Amy Poehler
Review by Andrew Kosarko


SYNOPSIS:

Pop sensations Alvin, Simon and Theodore end up in the care of Dave Seville's twenty-something nephew Toby (Levi). The boys must put aside music superstardom to return to school, and are tasked with saving the school's music program by winning the $25,000 prize in a battle of the bands. But the Chipmunks unexpectedly meet their match in three singing chipmunks known as The Chipettes -Ė Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette. Romantic and musical sparks are ignited when the Chipmunks and Chipettes square off.

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REVIEW:

I go against every one of my colleagues by saying this Ė but damn I was entertained this time. Iím sorry, I wonít lie. The 2nd movie has itís problems for the adult audience, but thereís enough here to keep me entertained and even pulled on my emotional strings a couple of times.

The Story: The truth is, itís that cookie cutter formulaÖ.again. But at least this time they understand that itís more about what you do within the structure that the formula itself. It follows the chipmunks themselves a bit more than the first film did and thatís really the best part. The Chipettes are apparently ďhorribly handledĒ according to a Chipmunk fanboy I know (Even I didnít know there were levels of fandom that reached that far) but I was entertained by their story as well. Yes, of course the obvious match ups occur but itís not the primary focus of the story, itís more about brothers sticking together and remaining individuals. While it doesnít exactly take the story to the high notes of that theme it does play them along well enough to illicit emotion from you, or at least me-my gf and the little kids surrounding us. Yes, itís still the same old same, but itís aleast got a little something new here and there to catch your attention. And this time thereís some adult injokes thank God. Most notably to this movie nerd Ė Alvin, voiced by Justin Long, referencing the 5 Dís of Dodgeball.

Acting: THANK GOD for Zachary Levi. He plays his role, although for a kids movie, pretty straight forward and not over the top. Yes, itís underdeveloped and clichť, but man is he much more relatable than Jason Leeís ďDave.Ē Ė whom I may add only bookends the movie because he spends most of the movie in the hospital due to an on stage accident caused by Alvin in the opening scene. Itís also weird that Dave is cut out of the film so much and his love interest from the first film is completely ignored and unmentioned. But I donít think the kids will notice and you will care Ė Iím just a stickler for continuity like that.

Directing: Usually female directors donít hit it big with me. I understand thatís completely sexist, but I try to watch the titles at the end of the movie instead of the start. Most times I notice films I donít like were directed by women. Itís just how I naturally react before I know this. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised. This is definitely better than the first film and as always the director should get all the credit. Great job Betty Thomas.

Cinematography: Same as before Ė high school musical vibrant colors of blue, red and yellow. Everything is clean and shiny and bright. But you love looking at it and it fits the world weíre in and follows in continuity with the first film.

Production Design: Again Ė same as the first film. The ďif it ainít broke donít fix itĒ rule applies here and while it remains stagnant of itís film maker column, it works for the freaking chipmunk movie man, haha.

Editing: Pacing is soooo much better this time. Things keep going and they cut right to the chase 75% of the time. Yes, there are some scenes that are quite repetitive and you realize in retrospect the exact same thing is happening for no reason whatsoever, not even comedic, but overall it still holds up alright.

Score: Again, if youíre not tolerant of the chipmunk takes on pop songs, thereís nothing I can do to help ya.

Special Effects: While I understand the approach taken behind the chipettes, I do wish they had been a little bit more original in their design. Maybe mix it up visually a bit. But it helps the kids figure it out if the girl with glasses likes the boy with glasses. Thank you stereotypes. Regardless, the design is still hardcore detailed and enjoyable to see. This is what cartoons should look like when rendered for a live action kids movie.

In closing: I dug it. The girlfriend dug it. The kids dug it. You really donít have to see the first one to ďget itĒ. And while itís what youíll expect from a Chipmunks sequel, itís still a pretty decent film to see with the family one night. Donít expect to be on the edge of your seat, but itís definitely a good rental for a family night.


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