Alvin And The Chipmunks
First Underdog and now Alvin and the Chipmunks. Whom, exactly, does Jason Lee owe money to? Thankfully, this installment on Lee's loan is far more palatable than Underdog was; Chipmunks is enjoyable enough on its own terms--and faithful enough to the original cartoons--that the faint praise of "not as bad as you thought it would be" certainly applies. The first half of the movie is, essentially, the origin story for the Chipmunks, whose tree was cut down and brought--conveniently enough--to a record label's front office as a Christmas decoration. After having his songs rejected again by that very label, struggling musician Dave Seville (Lee) ends up unwittingly transporting the Chipmunks to his house. Home-wrecking hijinks ensue, loving bonds are forged, a Christmas song is recorded and turned into a hit. In the second half, things get a little weird and unnecessarily complex when the record company executive (played by David "My Agent Needs a Talking To" Cross) deceives the "boys," gets them away from Dave, and then exploitatively works them ragged. Whatever. Nobody's going to Chipmunks looking for well-drawn plots. Director Tim Hill does a respectable-enough job of keeping the pacing fast without resorting to shamelessly hip MTV-style edits; in fact, despite the incredible CGI renderings of the Chipmunks, the whole affair has a decidedly traditional feel. The laughs are mostly good-natured, character-based gags that are often quite funny--that's probably why you'll get so icked out when Simon eats Theodore's shit.