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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007


For the weekend beginning 14 December, here are the films in focus:


I Am Legend [rating: 6]


I Am Legend is a depressing experience. For everything it gets right, dozens of things go horribly, horribly wrong


Richard Matheson should have never written his now classic genre novel I Am Legend. Over the four decades since its release, great names in horror (Vincent Price) and mainstream cinema (Charleton Heston) have tried to bring the book to life. In the case of the Italian made The Last Man on Earth, Price had to deal with poor production values and budgetary concerns. And Heston’s Omega Man tried too hard to be faithful to both the creature community as well as standard ‘70s speculation. Now comes Will Smith, Mr. Summer Blockbuster, trying to establish a new seasonal shilling post with his winter waste of an adaptation. Scribbled by that talentless hack Akiva Goldsman and directed with little flair for the epic by Constantine‘s Francis Lawrence, what wants to be a potent post-apocalyptic shocker ends up as bereft of energy as the deserted New York streets depicted.  read full review…


Margot at the Wedding [rating: 7]


Busy, overdrawn, and working much too hard to get to its less than impressive point, Margot at the Wedding is entertainment as inference.


To steal a line from one Homer J. Simpson, familial dysfunction is the Washington Generals of the independent film genre. When writers and directors want to work outside the parameters of the mainstream, they typically use their own autobiographical angst to portray parents as insensitive louts, brothers and sisters as distant and depressed, and their own immediate relatives as messed up, maudlin burdens. From their perspective, there is no such thing as a happy brood. Instead, every clan is a craven collection of psychosis just waiting for an event to well up and erupt. In the case of Noah Baumbach, it’s a marriage that causes the commotion. Unfortunately, what happens in the days since the arrival of Margot at the Wedding add up to very little that’s believable or enjoyable.  read full review…


Alvin and the Chipmunks [rating: 2]


Alvin and the Chipmunks is, what we call in the profession, a “-less” film. This means it’s point-less, joy-less, soul-less, and worth-less.


When one reviews the history of pop culture fads and phenomenon, the unlikely popularity of Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka ‘Dave Seville’) and his studio experiment known as The Chipmunks remains a certified oddity. By speeding up the tape during the recording of an otherwise silly tune (1958’s “The Witch Doctor”) the struggling songwriter came up with a gimmick that wowed a pre-Beatlemania public. Using the woodland creatures as a hook, he crafted the hilarious holiday classic “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”. From then on, the imaginary trio took on all subjects, from ‘60s pop to ‘90s urban country. When Bagdasarian died in 1972, his son carried on the family legacy. After numerous cartoon incarnations, Fox is finally releasing a ‘live action’ version of the squeaky voiced combo. Based on the results, daddy should come back and haunt his misguided progeny ASAP.  read full review…


Look [rating: 7]


Like Short Cuts absent Altman’s metaphysical heft, Look is an oddly compelling little film.


There is no such thing as privacy. Stop kidding yourself. From the moment you leave the house to the second you step back in your supposedly secure abode, the world’s many Big Brothers are constantly watching you. There are cameras on street corners, lenses trained on you as you drive, fill up, or pay your daily tolls. Once at work, bosses monitor your computer, gauging Internet access for abuses and reading email to gain a managerial advantage. In the mall, every fitting room is monitored, every store a shoplifting prevention zone with more manpower than on a military base. Even our leisure is a source of surveillance, marketers and advertisers buying credit histories and charge plate purchases info as a means of making informed demographic decisions. Yet as writer/director Adam Rifkin points out in his intriguing new film Look, life goes on - and we seem oblivious to the fact that someone is constantly watching. read full review…


The Singing Revolution [rating: 7]


Though it proposes to discuss how music made all the difference in Estonia’s fight for independence, The Singing Revolution is actually more focused on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that helped determine the end of Russian influence in the Baltic region.


The fall of the Berlin Wall. The break up of the Soviet Union. The independence of the many former Communist satellites. To Western eyes, these were events that were never going to happen in their lifetime…or even their children’s lifetime. Yet with the introduction of glasnost and perestroika by then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the openness and tolerance presented as part of the new policy led many dissidents to test the limits of their ruling regimes. What makes the case of Estonia’s fight for independence so unusual is that it wasn’t based in acts of overt defiance. Instead, they relied on history, tradition, and a rich musical heritage to start their own Singing Revolution - and once it began, there was nothing any army could do to stop it.  read full review…


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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

THE SINGING REVOLUTION [dir. James Tusty]


The fall of the Berlin Wall. The break up of the Soviet Union. The independence of the many former Communist satellites. To Western eyes, these were events that were never going to happen in their lifetime…or even their children’s lifetime. Yet with the introduction of glasnost and perestroika by then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the openness and tolerance presented as part of the new policy led many dissidents to test the limits of their ruling regimes. What makes the case of Estonia’s fight for independence so unusual is that it wasn’t based in acts of overt defiance. Instead, they relied on history, tradition, and a rich musical heritage to start their own Singing Revolution - and once it began, there was nothing any army could do to stop it.


As portrayed in James Tusty’s memorable documentary of the same name, Estonia suffered greatly throughout the course of its harried history. Directly in the middle of the fray between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s armies during World War II, they were occupied by both factions before finally succumbing to Communist control in the ‘50s. From that point on, a nation previously devoted to peace and personal freedom found itself under the heavy dogmatic thumb of Moscow’s ruling junta, and the lack of sovereignty sparked a sense of national pride that lingered, underground, until the 100th anniversary of the annual Singing Festival became the focal point for a call to change. From there, all that was required to unseat Soviet rule was a commitment from brave members of the citizenry, and the use of nonviolent protest in light of a mighty military crackdown.


Though it proposes to discuss how music made all the difference in Estonia’s fight for independence, The Singing Revolution is actually more focused on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that helped determine the end of Russian influence in the Baltic region. While the annual celebration and its symbolic performance grounds did become an aggregate space for spontaneous protests and planned rallies, the backdoor machinations that resulted in secret deals, unusual alliances, and dangerous stands were far more responsible for the eventual change than the actual reliance on traditional folksongs. What the singing did symbolize, however, was the previously unknown national consciousness. People who wouldn’t normally think of themselves as activists could use the cover of communal participation as a means of protest.


Tusty goes into great detail here, speaking with individuals who were actually there on the front lines. As much as story about Russia’s fall as Estonia’s rise, he is careful to include contextual information, how Gorbachev’s calculated move to make the Soviet Union more modern opened a can of free speech worms he couldn’t contain. Indeed, while there are several other factors that helped form Estonia’s break, the ability to freely and openly address the nation’s rich cultural past was the catalyst that many newly formed factions used to advance their call to arms. Even more astounding, Tusty gets everyday Estonians to describe the terror they lived under, the undeniable knowledge that the KGB sat at every corner, recording their every move and word.


Indeed, what a film like The Singing Revolution reminds us of is that, unlike life in America, the threat of overthrow by an imperialistic or theocratic system is typically a political campaign away for these minor nations. Even when Gorbachev’s reforms seemed to suggest a lack of reasonable response from Russia, Estonia knew there was still a chance that tanks and troops would sweep across the border and take back control forcibly - and that’s just what happened…almost. One of the most compelling parts of the narrative is the last ditch effort by Communist hardliners to take back the Union. A coup led to Gorbachev being placed under house arrest, and with the Central Committee in the hands of those who’d return power no matter the consequences, things looked grim. It was thanks to two industrious police officers, given the task of protecting Estonia’s radio and television tower, and Boris Yeltsin back in Moscow, that truly saved the day.


As with any political thriller, this is incredibly compelling stuff, and Tusty doesn’t amplify or marginalize the material. Instead, he lets narrator Linda Hunt provide the plainspoken facts. Then he will accentuate the ‘you are there’ moments and newsreel/television footage with the voices of those who were actually involved. The humble cop who secured the nation’s sole source of information is relatively down to earth regarding his part in history. Similarly, those who staged the concerts and the rallies are on hand to describe the feeling of seeing hundreds of thousands of their countrymen and women coming together for the noblest of citizenry causes.


In fact, if there is one minor flaw in Tusty’s approach, it’s that we don’t get enough of the title element. Songs are indeed sung, but they are only offered in snippets. It would be wonderful to see just one of these important melodies completed all the way through. In addition, there is very little input from the Russian side of things. Though their handling of the matter is not what’s important here, a little more scope would seal the documentary’s importance. Still, it’s hard to deny the human drama that plays out over the course of these mesmerizing 90 minutes. Just listening to the participants casually rattle off their stints in Siberian labor camps and as political prisoners (some for many years) is inspiring enough.


It’s the kind of confrontation that makes one question their own commitment to country. The United States has been incredibly lucky in that no foreign nation has ever literally tried to invade and take over. We’ve stood by across decades as other countries claim rights to and overthrow empowered governments for completely incomprehensible or selfish reasons. It’s clear that there’s authority in the voice of dissent, and when matched to a tune that proclaims native roots and right to self-determination, the force is strengthened further. Without its annual proclamation of music, Estonia might still be a Russian stronghold today. But thanks to The Singing Revolution, it’s a proud, prosperous democracy. It proves that power always remains where it begins - with the people.


 



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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING [dir. Noah Baumbach]


To steal a line from one Homer J. Simpson, familial dysfunction is the Washington Generals of the independent film genre. When writers and directors want to work outside the parameters of the mainstream, they typically use their own autobiographical angst to portray parents as insensitive louts, brothers and sisters as distant and depressed, and their own immediate relatives as messed up, maudlin burdens. From their perspective, there is no such thing as a happy brood. Instead, every clan is a craven collection of psychosis just waiting for an event to well up and erupt. In the case of Noah Baumbach, it’s a marriage that causes the commotion. Unfortunately, what happens in the days since the arrival of Margot at the Wedding add up to very little that’s believable or enjoyable.


Though she hasn’t seen her sister in years, Margot wants to travel to the Northeast to attend Pauline’s wedding. While there, she can hook up with her writing partner/lover Dick, and even work in a reading at a local bookstore. Son Claude has come along as well, and he finds an immediate bond with his distant relatives. He loves Pauline’s compassion, enjoys her fiancé Malcolm’s unmannered pretense, and finds the ongoing property struggle with the neighboring Voglers a source of constant curiosity. As the big day approaches, Margot’s natural buttinski personality takes over, and she questions everything about Pauline’s life - her choice of man (whose jobless and sketchy at best), where she lives (hermetically sealed in the family home), and her obvious lingering animosity. From her perspective, this marriage should never happen. Pauline, however, just wants her sister back, if only to share in her miserable memories of an abusive and empty childhood. Yet while they try to love and support each other, their past keeps coming back to haunt and harm them.


Busy, overdrawn, and working much too hard to get to its less than impressive point, Margot at the Wedding is entertainment as inference. Nothing is spelled out in this quasi-quirk out, actors with substantial performance chops trying to carry writer/director Noah Baumbach’s idiosyncrasies all the way to the awards podium. Unfortunately, we are dealing with subterfuge so scattered that we fail to see the forest for the failing family tree (which we get a literal example of). This is the kind of film where you don’t learn the character’s professions until midway through. It’s a narrative that hints at parental horrors, but never spells them out in obvious ways. It will introduce characters without explaining who they are or their import (the gay couple at dinner, the oddball next door neighbors) and drop situations that suggest there are major issues that need to be dealt with (sex with a teenage girl, a bad bite mark on a child’s neck).


Instead, what Baumbach hopes to achieve is a kind of snapshot of siblings struggling to reconnect. For Pauline, her ‘famous’ author sister is a constant source of pride…and embarrassment. While they haven’t spoken in years, Margot will take individual tragedy and personal pain and translate it into her own snobbish literature. For the know-it-all authoress, Pauline is a pathetic shell of what she really could be. She settles for men who Margot feel are far too flawed (including new slacker Malcolm) and limits her own potential by hiding inside the clan’s old seaside abode. The wedding itself is a ruse - a chance to get together and trade oh so clever quips and languid insights about the human condition…and we are supposed to convert these hoary heart to hearts into something meaningful.


Unfortunately, Margot at the Wedding doesn’t provide us with a primer. We don’t know why the family fights (though Margot’s use of their past in her fiction seems to drive some of the friction) and the whole issue with the neighbors and a dying tree seems lifted out of a bad TV drama. People as peculiar as the Voglers shouldn’t be feared - they should be locked up by the local authorities. Yet like a novelist without an editor, Baumbach keeps adding more, hinting that there are mountained molehills that the tone of this movie can’t manage. You keep expecting Tom Hanks and Corey Feldman to show up and start riffing on life in the ‘burbs. Since he has the talent to take on the material he wants to address, the mind behind The Squid and the Whale should have let his actors loose. Instead, his sense of surreality constantly hems them in.


The performances are indeed wonderful. While she’s usually a marquee mannequin, Nicole Kidman shows a nice ditzy vulnerability as Margot. She’s also one of the bitterest pills her relatives have ever had to swallow, and she balances both emotions with exceptional ease. Also marvelous is the usually showy Jennifer Jason Leigh. Dialed down to a more dour, reserved presence, she is perfect in a role that requires her to be both strong and stupid, enlightened and lost. When they are on screen together, these stars light up the limited dialogue. Supporting them are substantial turns by Jack Black, Ciaran Hinds, and Flora Cross. Mr. Tenacious D may loose some of his focus toward the end (his crying tends to play as goofy instead of genuine), but he matches wits with Hinds’ haughty outsider expertly.


If there is a weak link in all this thespianism, it’s newcomer Zane Pais. Granted, he has the hardest role in the entire film, trying to portray adolescent coming of age, a parental breakup paradigm, and the budding interest in his long lost relatives all at once. Unfortunately, he’s too unrefined and raw to make it all work. Instead, he seems adrift, his unusually long hair constantly masking the emotion rippling across his face. Baumbach may have a way with words, but he fails to give Claude anything but a series of inquiries and arguments. We never know his place in the vague dust up between Margot, her absent husband, and the man she is sleeping with. Instead, we keep focusing on the tree, and a meaningless shoe that’s supposed to symbolize…something.


Still, anyone who’s got a closet full of mother/father/offspring skeletons will probably connect with this movie on some primitive level. Margot at the Wedding tells a story perfectly poised for those who’ve yet to deal with their ever-present personal baggage. Even worse, it argues that there are no answers, that nosy sisters and reactionary siblings will always stay the same, that therapy brings no closure and relationship seminars don’t teach potential mates anything about staying away from temptation. There is a lot of good motion picture meat here (John Turturro’s cameo as Margot’s husband, Malcolm and Pauline discussing children), but you have to chew through so much mannered fat and gristle that it barely seems worth it. In the end, it’s the performances that will stay with you. The rest of Margot at the Wedding is like that socially mandated ritual - filled with preplanned pomp, resulting in very little actual finality.



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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

LOOK [dir. Adam Rifkin]


There is no such thing as privacy. Stop kidding yourself. From the moment you leave the house to the second you step back in your supposedly secure abode, the world’s many Big Brothers are constantly watching you. There are cameras on street corners, lenses trained on you as you drive, fill up, or pay your daily tolls. Once at work, bosses monitor your computer, gauging Internet access for abuses and reading email to gain a managerial advantage. In the mall, every fitting room is monitored, every store a shoplifting prevention zone with more manpower than on a military base. Even our leisure is a source of surveillance, marketers and advertisers buying credit histories and charge plate purchases info as a means of making informed demographic decisions. Yet as writer/director Adam Rifkin points out in his intriguing new film Look, life goes on - and we seem oblivious to the fact that someone is constantly watching.


We follow five different stories here - a young high school girl, desperate to show off her sexuality, decides to target a teacher. A pair of ruthless spree killers murder various victims around town. They go unnoticed mostly, except to a gas station clerk, his on again/off again gal pal, and his slacker buddy. In the meantime, a high priced lawyer with a wife and kids sets up a Nanny-cam to keep the new au pair in check. Of course, when he’s away at work, he has the occasional lunch meeting with his hunky attorney boyfriend. Then there’s the department store manager who snorts coke, watches porn on his computer, and screws every floorwalking gal on his watch. Finally, a disgruntled insurance adjuster who’s the butt of every prank pulled by those in his office decides there’s only one way to gain control of his life - and it’s not a very pretty solution.


Like Short Cuts absent Altman’s metaphysical heft, Look is an oddly compelling little film. Rifkin, perhaps best known for his work as both a writer (Underdog, Zoom) and director (The Dark Backward, Detroit Rock City), takes the intriguing premise of life captured by surveillance camera and adds a few fictional twists to spice up the situations. Of course, no one will believe this is actual ‘caught on tape’ drama. The actors are obvious, everyone is miked for ease in understanding the dialogue, and logistical truths (how long would a store tolerate the outsized sexual appetite of such a supervisor/lothario) are pushed in order to puff up the running time. Still, any movie that lets the great Giuseppe Andrews preview a few of his masterful songs while playing a Clerks-like convenience store stooge has got to be doing something right.


It has to be said that not every story works here. The killers’ tale is interesting, and ends with a literal bang. And the teen sex queen and her desire to conquer her married (and soon to be a father) teacher has a nice level of lewdness and necessary law abiding…for both sides. Yet the whole narrative surrounding office dork Marty is too cruel and takes way too long to truly pay off, and the gay lover attorneys appear to be homosexual for the sake of something different, not an actual interpersonal dynamic. Still, we remain fascinated by Rifkin’s approach, wondering to ourselves how often supposedly private acts become part of a constant camcorder ideal. In fact, he’s careful to show both standard security footage intermixed with material captured on cellphones and other recording devices in order to emphasize the point.


Rifkin also found actors who walk the fine line between fake and fully aware. Andrews may sound like a mannered moron, but there’s a savant like specialty to what he does with a basically underwritten role. Similarly, Ben Weber is pathetic as Marty, just sad and clueless enough to earn our sympathy - that is, until his true side emerges. We’d love to know more about how Chris Williams’ George and Paul Schackman’s Ben ever got together, but they seem like a happy closeted couple. Indeed, all throughout Look, Rifkin’s attention to personal detail makes the frequently pat stories seem all the more real. In fact, one can easily see each scenario expanded and added to in a special edition DVD.


The most important thing the film establishes, however, is the theme of false privacy. When our school slut seduces her teacher, she’s shocked that it’s caught on tape. Our department story manwhore does things that no right minded person would ever attempt were they to know about the ever-present eye watching them. Look loves to push that concept to understandable extremes. The killers murder a cop, knowing full well it’s being captured on a windshield monitor, and every act in the convenience store - from singing to outright stealing - is preserved for future reference. This leads to the movie’s one minor complaint - the lack of realistic follow-up. Unless we are to believe that no one reviews these recordings, many of the situations repeated would have been legally nipped in the bud a long, long time ago.


Still, the human instinct to play voyeur matched by the morbid curiosity that comes when people are trapped in the act of being unbelievably inappropriate (to paraphrase one Candid Camera) makes Look a laudable effort. It may not be the landmark film that critics are cawing over - there have been other examples of the cinematic gimmick used here, including a crime thriller from 2001 created by Max Allan Collins entitled Real Time: Siege at the Lucas Street Market - but that doesn’t lessen the wonder in Rifkin’s approach. Indeed, in a new weird world order where we gladly substitute security for inherent rights, where we complain about the invasion but chalk it up to being protected, Look appears less like a stunt and more like a salient bit of future shock. Unfortunately, from what we see here, Orwell was right. 


 


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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS [dir. Tim Hill]


When one reviews the history of pop culture fads and phenomenon, the unlikely popularity of Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka ‘Dave Seville’) and his studio experiment known as The Chipmunks remains a certified oddity. By speeding up the tape during the recording of an otherwise silly tune (1958’s “The Witch Doctor”) the struggling songwriter came up with a gimmick that wowed a pre-Beatlemania public. Using the woodland creatures as a hook, he crafted the hilarious holiday classic “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”. From then on, the imaginary trio took on all subjects, from ‘60s pop to ‘90s urban country. When Bagdasarian died in 1972, his son carried on the family legacy. After numerous cartoon incarnations, Fox is finally releasing a ‘live action’ version of the squeaky voiced combo. Based on the results, daddy should come back and haunt his misguided progeny ASAP.


Jason Lee stars as the post-modern Dave Seville, a hard working adman who longs to be a successful songwriter. Unfortunately, his old buddy, record executive Ian Hawke, thinks his music stinks. When our hapless hero stumbles upon a group of talking chipmunks in his apartment, he immediately thinks he’s gone crazy. After some convincing, the human strikes an accord with the talented critters - he’ll let them stay in his house if they sing his songs. When the rodents express a desire to have their very first Christmas, Seville is inspired. He writes a nutty novelty tune, plays it for Ian, and the rest is history. As the reticulated boy band burns up the charts, their two legged guide tries to patch things up with ex-girlfriend Claire. This distraction allows Ian to swoop in and steal the varmints from under his pal’s nose.


Alvin and the Chipmunks is, what we call in the profession, a “-less” film. This means it’s point-less, joy-less, soul-less, and worth-less. It is nothing more than an excuse for overpaid computer geeks to render quasi-realistic wildlife - all in service of a crass commercial statement. While it only plays the fart and poop card once each, this is still a juvenile effort helmed by individuals (Jon Vitti - ex-Simpsons, and Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi of Pete and Pete fame) who should really know ‘funny’ better. Substituting stupidity for smarts and silliness for satire, we wind up with the kind of mindless box office babysitter that lets inattentive parents feel safe about dragging their kids to the Cineplex. Had it strived for anything subversive or revisionist, the lack of sell-through support would only be matched by the bellyaching coming from the Bagdasarian camp.


It’s clear that the owners of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore don’t cotton to the modern comic sensibilities. The Chipmunks are never anything more than a vehicle for sloppy slapstick, surreal non-sequitors, and an overdose of pallid pop references. If you think CG critters cracking hip-hop wise is the last word in witty, you’ll adore this dreck. In fact, the script seems stuck in the early phases of the 2000’s, a time when rap and urban slang flooded the commercial concept of culture. It makes the use of the band’s old standards (both “Witch Doctor” and “Christmas” make multiple appearances) and their frequent freaked out cover versions (“Funky Town”? Please!) all the more bizarre.


It would be nice to think that the adults could balance out the saccharine shtick. Unfortunately, neither Jason Lee nor comedian David Cross (as Ian) can deliver. Lee is lost, mostly playing at a pitch right above psychopath. Instead of being frustrated by his new roomies - thereby guaranteeing Seville’s trademark shriek of “ALVIN!!!” - the My Name is Earl star seems to be having a hissy for no apparent reason. Cross is even more clueless, trying to riff on the surreal situation of talking, singing vermin in a plausible post-modern way. It doesn’t work. About the only actor who finds the proper tone is Geena Davis lookalike Cameron Richardson. She’s light and airy, as fluffy in her self-effacing superficiality as the movie is loud and lumbering.


And then there’s the question of marketing. Who is actually aching for a live action Chipmunks movie? It can’t be the Boomers who grew up with the gimmicky act. There is nothing in this adaptation to make them smile. It can’t be the Gen-Xers who made the Saturday morning cartoon series from the ‘80s sail. Again, this film avoids anything remotely resembling the character’s retro past. If it’s aimed at current wee ones, then Hollywood really thinks children are dumb. As long as it’s colorful, corny, and constantly in motion, it should hold the bratlings at bay, right? Wrong. Alvin and the Chipmunks is so lacking in legitimate fun that even the simplest of small fry brains will have a hard time finding a reason to rejoice.


Even the CGI looks second rate. In an attempt to make the trio as ‘true to life’ as possible, a weird combination of approaches has been employed. The bodies are like that of real chipmunks, but the faces have that blank, dead-eyed stare of an attempted anthropomorphizing. Instead of going with something more suggestive, the contradictory combination makes the main characters look unnecessarily busy and blurred. When the action does slow down, Alvin and the boys get away with a lot of cheesy glances. And don’t let the voice talent fool you. Justin Long (Alvin) Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon) and Jesse McCartney (Theodore) might just as well have not shown up for the recording sessions. They do nothing that’s memorable.


In the end, Alvin and the Chipmunks comes across as another nostalgia raiding stab by Tinsel Town directly into the heart of many an individual’s childhood memories. Like the equally unseemly (but much more successful) Underdog from Disney, studios can’t seem to recognize that every old school kid vid character doesn’t need a mid-millennial update. You can make them krump and Emo everything to kingdom come, but these weird wildlife sensations stand as a specific symbol from a specific era. As an old novelty act, they may have some staying power. But it’s clear that Bagdasarian’s babies can’t carry a big screen comedy - not even one aimed at the single digit age demographic. 



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