By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — As Christmas-season attractions go, the animation and live-action blend "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (Fox) is kind of a stale cookie.
In this third outing in the Chipmunks series, director Mike Mitchell and screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger go heavy on both slapstick and comic riffs on other similarly themed media offerings, including the TV show "Lost" and Tom Hanks’ 2000 big-screen drama "Cast Away." When Alvin squeaks out Charlie Sheen’s catchword — "Winning!" — the reference seems calculated to fly well over young children’s heads, and have adults gnashing their teeth.
Tiny rodent rap stars with high-pitched voices that break into song and dance at the slightest provocation undoubtedly have appeal in small doses. But in a feature-length film, they’re wearisome.
This time around, Alvin, Simon and Theodore (voiced, respectively, by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) and their Chipette counterparts Eleanor, Jeanette and Brittany (voices of Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate) misbehave on a Caribbean cruise, and wind up on a remote island. There they help fellow castaway Zoe (Jenny Slate) and learn the cherished values of all island washouts since Robinson Crusoe: responsibility, maturity and self-sufficiency.
Hot on their bushy tails, as always, are their long-suffering manager Dave (Jason Lee) and their long-standing antagonist, perpetually embittered record executive Ian (David Cross). Ian’s been reduced to working as a cruise-ship mascot.
While cinematically weak, like the thin gruel and softly boiled eggs favored by Jane Austen’s hypochondriac character Mr. Woodhouse, the film is not unwholesome.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.