The ro­dents re-run again

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

ALVIN AND THE CHIP­MUNKS Di­rected by Tim Hill. Star­ring Ja­son Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richard­son, voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCart­ney PG cert, gen re­lease, 90 min

I SMELL hypocrisy. This per­func­tory fam­ily film fol­lows a cyn­i­cal record pro­ducer (David Cross, cur­rently play­ing Alan Gins­berg in I’m Not There) as he sets out to ex­ploit a trio of naive singing ro­dents. Ini­tially they en­joy the adu­la­tion, but grad­u­ally the long hours and moral com­pro­mises send the poor crea­tures right off their feed.

It is 50 years since one Ross Bag­dasar­ian dragged Alvin and the Chip­munks from the for­est, crammed them into lit­tle pullovers and pushed them be­fore their first au­di­ence of bray­ing in­fants. In the in­terim they have ap­peared in some five TV se­ries, propped up a dozen Christ­mas specials and – this is the mu­sic in­dus­try, re­mem­ber – been the sub­ject of a le­gal bust-up be­tween Bag­dasar­ian Pro­duc­tions and Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios.

Give the poor crea­tures a break. Even The Bay City Rollers even­tu­ally man­aged to es­cape their dom­i­neer­ing con­trollers to pur­sue ca­reers in dry clean­ing and waste man­age­ment. Yet here come the Chip­munks again. They have been in­dif­fer­ently com­puter an­i­mated, granted a new dad in Ja­son Lee and pro­vided with some light­weight hip-hop tunes to war­ble.

None of this can, how­ever, dis­tract from the soul­less, dead­ened look in the eyes of Alvin and his pals. The years have worn them down. The dry husks of the an­i­mals they once were sham­ble rather than skip, and their voices carry the des­per­ate echoes of late nights spent par­ty­ing with Pinky and Perky.

Have some self-re­spect, fel­lows. Vet­er­ans such as you can make a good liv­ing telling jokes on cruise ships or solv­ing co­nun­drums in the Count­down cor­ner.

One jaded chip­munk

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