By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Though it contains positive messages about choosing loyalty over selfishness, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" (Fox) — a comedy with music that mixes animation and live action — presents these lessons to young viewers wrapped in an entertainment package that feels somewhat shopworn. Still, a bit of gently rude humor aside, the proceedings are unobjectionable.
Director Betty Thomas’ extension of the 50-year-old Chipmunks franchise — which includes hit recordings, a pair of television cartoon series and this feature’s 2007 predecessor, called simply "Alvin and the Chipmunks" — opens with its familiar trio of harmonizing rodents, brothers Alvin (voice of Justin Long), Simon (voice of Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (voice of Jesse McCartney), having a series of slapstick misadventures.
As a result of these, their usual protector Dave (Jason Lee) winds up in the hospital, and they end up in the inept care of Dave’s cousin Toby (Zachary Levi), a gadget-obsessed slacker. On Dave’s orders, Toby enrolls his new proteges in school, where Alvin’s popularity with a clique of bullying athletes leads to membership on the football team and the temptation to leave his socially less successful siblings in the dust.
A school singing competition sees the high-pitched warblers pitted against their female opposite numbers, the Chipettes, made up of divas Jeanette (voice of Anna Faris), Brittany (voice of Christina Applegate) and Eleanor (Amy Poehler). Backing the Chipettes is unscrupulous producer Ian (David Cross), whose manipulation of the Chipmunks made him the villain of the previous film.
Out for revenge, and confident that the Chipettes are the key to his renewed success, Ian increasingly showcases Brittany to the disadvantage of her sisters, forcing her to face a moral choice between egotism and family faithfulness similar to the one confronting Alvin.
While this harmless, mostly routine offering may keep undemanding youngsters diverted, accompanying adults will likely find little to entertain them apart, possibly, from the spectacle of both singing groups giving the patented Chipmunks treatment to pop tunes by everyone from the Bee Gees to Beyonce.
– – –
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.