Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 29, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Hilarious and fun for the entire family! If you enjoyed the first film, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel” features more hijinks, more music, more craziness and also featuring the Chipettes!
© 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Corporation, Regency Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
DURATION: 88 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio, Spanish, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: PG (Some Mild Rude Humor)
RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2010
Based on a the characters by Ross Bagdasarian Jr.
Directed by Betty Thomas
Written by Jon Vitti, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Executive Producer: Arnon Milchan, Karen Rosenfelt, Steve Waterman, Michele Imperato
Produced by Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman
Music by David Newman
Cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond
Edited by Matt Friedman
Casting by Juel Bestrop, Seth Yanklewitz
Production Design by Marcia Hinds
Art Direction by Bo Johnson, Sei Nakashima
Set Decoration by Karen Agresti
Costume Design by Alexandra Welker
Zachary Levi as Toby
David Cross as Ian
Jason Lee as Dave
Justin Long as the voice of Alvin
Matthew Gray Gubler as the voice of Simon
Jesse McCartney as the voice of Theodore
Amy Poehler as the voice of Eleanor
Anna Faris as the voice of Jeanette
Christina Applegate as the voice of Brittany
Wendie Malick as Dr. Rubin
Kathryn Jooseten as Aunty Jackie
Anjelah N. Johnson as Julie
Kevin G. Schmidt as Ryan
Chris Warren Jr. as Xander
When a concert mishap lands Dave in the hospital, the Chipmunks take a break from superstardom and enroll in school to fit in with kids their age. But they soon face some stiff competition when they meet the Chipettes — a beautiful, talented trio of chipmunks discovered by Ian, the boys’ evil ex-manager!
When Ross Bagdasarian Sr. created the Alvin and the Chipmunks, I often wonder if he knew at the time of how popular those characters, their music and the animated series would be for American pop culture.
Popular for the music, it was in 1961 when the three went from being puppets to an animated show. Bagdasarian using his stage name Dave Seville, the music composer and father/caretaker of three talented chipmunks who tend to get into a little mischief. The animated series “Alvin and the Chipmunks” is one of those animated series that has been part of the childhood of several generations. An even more animated series continued throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
And as “Alvin and the Chipmunks has been a part of the childhood of children for five decades, for this generation of children, they are now getting acquainted by Alvin, Simon and Theodore through their animated CG films. And what a remarkable success the first film had been for Twentieth Century Fox as “Alvin and the Chipmunks” made over $361 million worldwide (the budget of the film was $60 million).
Needless to say, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” earned their right for a sequel and before Christmas 2009, the $75 million dollar sequel “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” made even more money than the first earning over $442 million worldwide and now, this popular film which introduces us to the female chipmunks ala “The Chipettes”: Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette and featuring more star-power providing the voices for the characters.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks” starts off in Paris with Dave (played by Jason Lee, “My Name is Earl”, “Monster House”, “Chasing Amy”) watching over Alvin (voiced by Justin Long, “Live Free and Die Long”, “Planet 51”, “Funny People”), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler, “(500) Days of Summer”) and Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney, “Greek”) as they perform for a charity. Dave warns Alvin to not show off because he has to take his brothers into consideration but of course, in his mind, Alvin is the star of the show and eventually shows off. Unfortunately, by showing off, Alvin accidentally puts Dave into the hospital with broken bones throughout his body.
Because Dave can’t watch over the three, he depends on his Aunt Jackie (played by Kathryn Joosten, “Desperate Housewives”) to watch over them. But at the airport, her videogame playing, not much of an achiever nephew Toby (played by Zachary Levi, “Chuck”) accidentally pushes her wheelchair and Jackie ends up getting hurt while falling over several steps. Thus the irresponsible Toby is now responsible for watching over Alvin, Simon and Theodore and also making sure he can prepare them for school.
Meanwhile, the villain of the last film, Jett Records Executive Ian Hawke (“Kung Fu Panda”, “Year One”) is still reeling of how he lost everything because of Alvin and the Chipmunks and despises them. How will he ever bounce back and become a prominent music exec? Well, Ian Hawke is fortunate when three female chipmunks known as “The Chipettes” land literally in front of his building’s doorsteps.
The Chipettes are almost like a female version of Alvin and the Chipmunks and consists of the talented and outspokent Brittany (voiced by Christina Applegate, “Married with Children”, “Samantha Who?”), the intelligent Jeanette (voiced by Anna Farris, “The House Bunny”, “Mama’s Boy”) and the short and flirty Eleanor (voiced by Amy Poehler, “Parks & Recreation”, “Saturday Night Live”) who want to sign with Jett Records and work with Ian Hawke because he is the one that worked with Alvin and the Chipmunks and also hope that Ian can introduce them to Alvin and his brothers.
As Alvin, Simon and Theodore attend high school, they realize how difficult it is. They are constantly bullied by the jocks and get into trouble but fortunately, the school principal Dr. Rubin (played by Wendie Malick, “Just Shoot Me!”, “Frasier”, “Fillmore”) is a big fan of Alvin and the Chipmunks and in order to spare them from the trouble they have gotten, she asks them for a favor and that is to win the school music competition in order to pay for the music department (which lost state funding).
When Ian Hawke discovers that Alvin and the Chipmunks are competing, he gets the Chipettes to take on Alvin and the Chipmunks in the music competition.
With both sides talented in music, who will become victorious?
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is presented in 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 1:85:1). Immediately, the first thing that catches your attention is the wonderful CG animation of the chipmunks and how they flawlessly work with the real life backgrounds and props.
Many scenes are shot outdoors and with very good lighting indoors that a lot of the detail can be seen in the trees, the plants, outdoor areas to the pores in the skin of the humans and of course, seeing the fur of the chipmunks with such detail. The film looks absolutely vibrant and detail is very good for this film. Skintones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and I saw no problems with artifacts, DNR or blurring.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Descriptiive Audio and Spanish/French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is dialogue and music driven through the center and front channel speakers. But there are special effects such as Alvin tossing a Wiimote into the TV, a wheelchair falling off Toby’s car and various sound effects like that. Surround channels tend to utilize the crowd ambiance much more in the film.
But since the film is primarily dialogue and music driven, dialogue is clear and understandable while the music definitely comes alive with the lossless audio soundtrack.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” features the following special features:
- Munking History: 50 Years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem & Music – (09:20) A special feature on the creation of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and various clips of the chipmunks in animated format.
- Munk Music Machine – Allows viewers to select only the music-based portions from the film.
- Meet the Chipettes – (8:35) The Chipette voice talent Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate talk about their characters and how and why Janice Karman created the Chipette’s.
- Rockin’ Rising Stars – (6:20) A featurette about the inclusion of the band Honor Society and singer Charice Pempengco into the film and their experience of working on a film.
- Music Mania – (9:02) The making of the music competition segment in the film.
- Meet the Stuffies – (3:08) The cast and crew talk about their experience working with the “stuffies”.
- Shake Your Groove Thing! with Rosero – (8:59) Choreographer Rosero and crew show off choreography for the song “Shake Your Groove Thing!”.
- Music Videos & Sing-Alongs – Featuring sing-alongs for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “We Are Family”,
and “Shake Your Groove Thing”.
- Music Videos – “You Really Got Me” featuring Honor Society & “The Song” featuring Queensberry.
- A-l-v-i-n-n-n-n!!! Album Maker – A feature that allows one to create an Alvin and the Chipmunks (or Chippetes) album maker. Your creations can be saved.
- Music In A Nutshell: Song Trivia – While watching the film, viewers can watch the film with song trivia.
- The Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking – (9:40) A documentary like featurette about life outside of the movie. Talent and crew talk about their experience of working with Alvin, Simon and Theodore.
- A-NUT-omy of a Scene – (2:39) How the stuffed animals are used for the choreography portions on the film to help guide the animators and the talent.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” comes with a DVD and a digital copy of the film. The DVD is presented in widescreen 1:85:1, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French Dolby Surround. Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish.
The digital copy works with portable Media Players and works with iTunes.
I grew up with “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and can easily remember watching the television series during my younger years and have watched a fair share of the anime series on DVD as well, introducing it to my seven-year-old son who absolutely loves the first film.
Sure enough, we watched “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and he was laughing and enjoying the film. As for me, I enjoyed the humor of the film and granted, I may not be the intended demographic for this film, but as a parent, watching my son and seeing him enjoy characters that I grew up with as a child was definitely a fun, family moment. In fact, he enjoyed the film so much that we watched it for a second time (along with the wife) and continued to laugh at the jokes and hijinks… “the dutch oven” joke was just hilarious!
I definitely enjoyed the picture quality of this Blu-ray release and how alive the lossless audio soundtrack (especially from the music) coming through my speakers. Needless to say, there are plenty of music featured in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and again, watching my son bop to the songs, I have no doubt that this film will do the same for the children watching this film. Also, for parents, there are plenty of special features and fun sing-a-longs and if you are commuting, you also get a DVD and digital copy of the film as well.
Overall, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” was an entertaining film which I enjoyed much more over the first film. The addition of the Chipettes was pretty cool and definitely enjoyed the animation and overall storyline for this sequel. As mentioned earlier in my review, there is a good number of star power in this film and a lot of of music covers. Definitely interesting to see “Chuck” actor Zachary Levi in a more comedic role and also to see Filipino singer Charice Pempengco jamming on the film as well! But of course, the star power behind the voices of Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes did a wonderful job. For Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate, the three did a wonderful job.
If you are a parent looking for a fun, family film…you can’t go wrong with “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and if you are an adult who grew up with Alvin and the Chipmunks, you’ll definitely enjoy this film as well! Definitely recommended!
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