Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
As we learned in our first cinematic interaction with Alvin and his brothers, chipmunks like to rock. In fact, being international pop stars is cooler than a bagful of roasted cashews for these furry fellows. But, as usual, Alvin takes the fun a little too far. And his stage-hogging triggers an accident that lands manager/guardian Dave in the hospital.
Dave will be laid up for a while, so he makes arrangements to have his cousin Toby look after the Chips and insists that they be enrolled in school while he recovers. Hey, if chipmunks can sing and play guitars, why can’t they write a few term papers, too?
The scholarly road has its ruts and bumps, though. Toby is a bit of a video game-obsessed slacker who doesn’t quite know what to do with his new responsibilities. And high school bullies don’t make things any easier. Then, when Alvin has his head turned by a group of popular jocks and then backs away from his brothers, things go from bad to worse.
In the meantime, former manager and all-around scoundrel, Ian Hawke, happens upon a new set of harmonizing rodents. A trio of pretty girl chipmunks called the Chipettes seek out Ian and give him hopes of not only making it back to the big-time, but smashing the hated Chipmunks along the way. Ian leaps into action to stage a head-to-head sing-off with the boys.
This can only end one way …
(You didn’t think a Chipmunks movie would end badly, did you?)
Despite rock stardom, a few poorly advised choices, school cliques and the twinkle of a pretty girl chipmunk’s smile, one thing ultimately remains paramount to our three titular heroes: family. Theodore, the sensitive Chip, worries that his brood might split under the strains, but their ties to each other, Dave and even goofy Toby stay strong.
Though it looks like Ian might turn the Chipettes into Chipmunk-haters, the girls turn out to be small-town gals with hearts of gold. (Cute and furry romance appears inevitable.) Toby learns to pull his nose out of a video game and take some parental responsibility for his young charges. And at one point, he has to face his greatest fear—speaking in public—in order to help the little guys.
A group of students, including Theodore, help organize donations for Toys for Tots. Ian has told Eleanor, one of the Chipettes, that she’s too short and chubby which causes her to dress differently—but Theodore tells her, "I think you look great just the way you are." The Chipmunks sing in a competition to earn money and save their school’s music program. Alvin puts his life in danger to save Theodore.
When the Chipettes sing they put quite a bit of sexualized hip shake and swivel into their choreography. Reviewer Catherine Shoard of guardian.co.uk voiced her distaste this way: "And, with the introduction of these fuzzy lovelies, something awful has happened���the franchise has been sexed up. There’s something truly dismaying about seeing a skimpily clad lady chipmunk shaking her booty while belting out some Beyoncé."
Ian sports a mostly bare chest while wearing a short bathrobe. Later, he steps out onstage clad in a strapless dress. At a high school singing competition, one young (human) singer wears a low-cut, formfitting dress.
Dave gets bashed with a large falling Chipmunks sign. (He’s sent hurtling across a theater stage.) We next see him propped up in a hospital bed wearing head bandages and what appears to be a full-body cast. A woman in a wheelchair is accidentally pushed backwards down a flight of stairs. She rolls and thumps her way to the bottom and is then hit with a large cart. (Her bandaged form gets loaded into an ambulance.) Theodore inadvertently trips a skateboarder who tumbles down a flight of stairs. After some slapstick tumbles, Ian’s hit in the crotch by a speeding toy.
Bullies abuse Simon by giving him a "swirly"—dunking him headfirst in the toilet. They pummel Simon and Theodore with dodge balls. They later toss Simon like a basketball into a trash can and torment Theodore. Sticking up for their brother, Alvin and Simon jump on two bullies and rip up their shirts (offscreen).
Alvin accidentally smashes a TV screen with his Wii remote. Toby stumbles around and breaks a number of musical instruments. Alvin and Simon wrestle and fight with each other in a trash dumpster. Ian is thrown into a dumpster by bouncers. An eagle threatens to eat Theodore.
Crude or Profane Language
Ian doesn’t finish the rude exclamation, "They can kiss my sweet …" He also spits out his frustration with "darn it to heck!" and "god!"
For the Chipmunks’ part, they are heard saying "rats!" and "dang!" Alvin calls former manager Ian "the devil."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Ian uncorks a bottle of champagne and pours himself a glass. (He never drinks it.) When Dave is in the hospital, he’s given a sedative that makes him groggy and eventually puts him to sleep. After Alvin shows up and causes his usual havoc, the doctor gives him a shot, too.
Other Negative Elements
Ian lies to the Chipettes repeatedly and one time manipulates them to help him break into an apartment. Bullies poke Theodore in the backside and make mean comments about his weight. Alvin grabs the bullies’ underwear to deliver a few wedgies.
After some Alvin-inspired shenanigans in Dave’s hospital room, Simon ends up falling into an empty bedpan. A frightened Theodore asks to sleep with Toby, who agrees, but then passes gas while Theodore is under the covers.
Those warbling fur balls who started life as a novelty song some 50-plus years ago are back, um, for a Squeakquel. Two years ago I wrote Plugged In’s review of the first big Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, and I had a pretty easy go of it. I knew halfway through that flick that I wasn’t going to find as much to like as I would have wished.
But now I’m really wrestling with what to say about this one. My indecision revolves around whether to gratefully count up the nuts that’ve already been gathered for winter or to bemoan the ones that haven’t.
By that I mean this: My first draft of this review jumped down on this kids’ pic with both paws. Catherine Shoard got it right when she complained about the filmmakers "sexing up the franchise," I wrote.
But it ended up feeling about as mean as the bullies who torment our furry little friends. So I crumpled it up and tossed it into the round file.
I do wish Squeakquel’s creators hadn’t equipped their newest feminine cast members with such coquettish moves. I get very tired of the entertainment industry handing young viewers sexualized bits—well beyond their years—to take home and imitate. But, I countered to myself, these Chipettes aren’t the Pussycat Dolls and their Chipmunk admirers never really treat them that way.
On the positive side of things, Squeakquel is dialed down from the first movie’s tendency to dole out toilet humor and chipmunk droppings in every scene. I didn’t once feel like I was rolling around in a long-neglected pet cage this time around.
On top of that, the animation sparkles. The musical numbers are cute and bouncy. And the Chips’ desire for a loving and lasting family comes through loud and clear.
Here’s a conclusion that hopefully won’t end up getting dragged across my desktop to the recycle bin: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel is something like a Christmastime candy cane. It’s colorful. It’s sweet. And it’s not exactly green beans. So wise parents will always keep an eye on how much the young ones gobble up.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Zachary Levi as Toby; David Cross as Ian; Jason Lee as Dave; Voices of Justin Long as Alvin; Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon; Jesse McCartney as Theodore; Amy Poehler as Eleanor; Anna Faris as Jeanette; Christina Applegate as Brittany
20th Century Fox
December 23, 2009
March 30, 2010