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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Subtitles Needed?
by Betty Jo Tucker

“Too bad I don’t speak Chipmunk,” my husband whispered as the end credits rolled for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. He said he might have enjoyed this movie if it included subtitles. However, I don’t think that would’ve helped much. While Alvin, Theodore and Simon are as cute as ever, the film's plot and most of its human actors fail to give them the strong support needed here. It’s a disappointing outing for this talented trio, especially after their amusing original movie released in 2007.

Adding three female chipmunks to the cast probably seemed like a good idea when deciding on a new adventure for our furry stars. And the Chipettes -- Brittany (voiced by Christina Applegate), Jeanette (voiced by Anna Faris), and Eleanor (voiced by Amy Poehler) -- come across as adorable competition for Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney). With double the singing trios, I expected more delightful musical numbers, but that didn’t happen. And the presence of SIX chipmunks takes too much attention away from Alvin’s group, which is a ‘no-no’ for many Chipmunk fans.

A simple plot concerning who will represent a high school in a musical competition – and ultimately win the final event -- is easy to follow and almost insultingly predictable, even for the youngest of viewers. Both the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are in contention, of course. And all signs point to them becoming friends instead of rivals.

Characters involved in helping or hindering the trios’ winning chances include an obnoxious agent (David Cross), a dignified high school principal with a surprising secret (Wendie Malick), and Dave’s (Jason Lee) irresponsible nephew (Zachary Levi). I think Cross and Malick have delivered much better performances in other projects. In fact, Cross took over the screen in Year One, and I loved Malick in TV’s Just Shoot Me. On the plus side, although Levi (Spiral and TV’s Chuck) plays a highly unsympathetic role as Toby, who’s doing a terrible job taking care of the Chipmunks while Dave recovers from injuries, he manages to make us care about what happens to Toby by the end of the film.    

Because Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel is aimed at youngsters, I took particular notice of children in the audience at the screening I attended. Most of the tiny ones seemed to enjoy the movie, but the older kids looked bored. Maybe they needed subtitles too.          

(Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and rated “PG” for some mild humor.)

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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