I would never condone animal cruelty but, I tell you, if I happened across Alvin and his chums swaggering down the street, it would take all my willpower to prevent myself from asking them to stop, just for a moment, whilst I rushed home to get my biggest and heaviest boots – preferably with steel toecaps – before coming back, stamping on the abominations and then punting the squeaky little horrors through a barbed wire fence.
Literally, it would take all of my willpower.
I’m not against mindless inanity (I can sit and watch Spongebob Squarepants for hours), and I haven’t reached the stage at which I am unable to appreciate films orientated specifically for children (Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks have blessed us with a catalogue of fantastic childrens films). What they possess and this lacks however, is a heart. You’ll find more heart in the leathery vessel thumping away behind Maggie Thatcher’s cleavage at the height of her milk-snatching days than you ever will in this movie.
I wanted to be pleasantly surprised but the chipmunks just aren’t likeable creatures. Alvin is supposed to be a loveable scallywag but he comes across as an angsty teenager that you want to swat with a spatula; Theodore just squats and pouts naively with big doey eyes that you can’t help but want to spit in; and Simon is such a little nerd that you want to wedgie him to the point that he turns female. Speaking of females; the chipmunk trio each have a female doppelganger by the name of Eleanor, Jeannette and Brittany and each is more irritating than the last. I’m exaggerating – but only slightly. You can’t warm to these critters like you can to the characters in Up! or Monsters Inc or the Toy Story triology.
So the chipmunks and chipettes board a ferry and then almost instantly (luckily for the other passengers) get stranded on an island. After ten minutes of crossed fingers, hoping that maybe the film had been set during the Cold War and they just so happen to have landed on an island about to be obliterated by the Russians testing their Tsar Bomba, I start chewing on the cyanide pile I had clenched between my molars in case of an emergency. My hopes were raised again when the critters dissolve into fighting over food – but a scene fit for Lord of the Flies doesn’t materialise. Sadly Theodore’s head isn’t stuck on a pointed stick at any point.
No, what happens is almost an extended episode of Lost. Except this particular episode is even more confusing, even more of a conundrum then that particularly great series ever was. Despite my rasping calls for humanity to be saved; Jack Shephard didn’t come running out of the undergrowth and drown them in his tears, nor does Hugo Reyes bound out and gobble them up.
You may have notice that I haven’t really mentioned many specific plot points for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Thats because there isn’t any. Oh no. I lie. There is a brief reference to Castaway when a girl on the island shows a collection of sport equipment with faces drawn on them. There are no highs or lows in the film – just a continual monotonous plateau of nothingness punctuated with spontaneous singing at the drop of a nut.
The ever present question that you’ll ask yourself is why? WHY? Why am I watching this?
Then again, as I speak, the film has already grossed over a hundred million dollars… so maybe I’m wrong, the film is actually fantastic and I’m simply too demanding.
Out Now in wide release