The rodents re-run again
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