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I’ll admit, there are days as a film critic when I actually crave for a bad film to get my grubby little paws on. Nothing feels better in this profession than to slaughter the living daylights out a film that deserves nothing less. Take it from me, it’s a pretty damn good feeling. It’s one of the only satisfactory ways a critic can vent the frustrations of everyday life.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Feature
These kinds of films come along once every so often and, depending if I am in the mood, I just might apply for it. And that’s exactly why I put my name forth to review Alvin and the Chipmunks. Sadly, however, my plan for a good critical slaughtering was somewhat ruined. The film was actually pretty good. Flawed, oh yes, but definitely not the kind of lousy effort I was expecting, even hoping it would be.

As always for a film such as this, I dragged my younger brother into my home theatre (a smallish bedroom that tries to emulate the cinema experience) so I could gauge his reactions along the way. As a family film, I find it useful to get a kid’s perspective on the matter, considering that it is targeting his demographic after all.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
And you know what, while this film is messy in places and clichéd beyond belief, it does actually do a good job at entertaining you for an hour and a half. And both me and my brother pretty much enjoyed it for what it ultimately was: a decent family film that you’ll get no more than two sittings out of.

As mentioned, the film isn’t perfect and there’s a multitude of reasons for that. First of all, the story plays a large part in knocking off a few points from that total over there on the right. The thing is, this is a film you’ve seen a hundred times before. In fact chances are you see several of these every year. You can almost predict what will happen next. I even accurately foresaw the end before the opening scene had concluded. It’s that predictable.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
It’s a story that is also very two dimensional and unimaginative. Don’t get me wrong, the film is still watchable, but it wouldn’t hurt the filmmakers to inject a little originality into the mix from time to time to shake things up a little. I can sum up the story in a single sentence, and here it is: singing chipmunks are taken from their forest, end up in the care of a budding songwriter who needs their help, they eventually fall out and go their separate ways, the chipmunks end up with the evil record company boss who needs them to make him wealthy, the film climaxes with the now upset songwriter and the villain trying to outdo each other in attempt to win the affection of the chipmunks. There is a big, over the top and sickly-sweet ending that attempts to make everyone smile just in time for the closing credits. The end. Okay that was more than one sentence, but who’s keeping count?

Another problem with the film also comes from the lead actor, Jason Lee. It has more to do with his character direction than anything else, but in this film he is incredibly wooden, flat and often insidiously boring. He shows almost none of the charm you’d expect to see in this role, but that doesn’t stop the directors and writers from trying. The effect comes across as horribly forced, and it takes away from the overall charm-factor seen elsewhere in the picture.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Still, the film is all about the chipmunks, right? And while it doesn’t get everything right (they are sometimes a little creepy to look at and are not as cute as they could have been) there’s still plenty of laughs and interesting musical and dance moments to enjoy along the way. There’s a little too much attention on toilet humour and the like for my taste, but there is some funny stuff in there as well that kids and adults should find appealing.

For all its many problems though, I enjoyed Alvin and the Chipmunks. It wasn’t new or refreshing, but then who expected it to be? I, for one, thought this was going to be a downright failure that I could take pride in ripping to shreds, but for better or worse it’s actually quite an interesting, enjoyable little family film that probably deserves a rent, or if you are feeling generous, a purchase.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Video
The high definition picture for Alvin and the Chipmunks is mostly excellent, with solid colour reproduction despite looking a little blue-tinted in some shots. There’s also an excellent use of fine detail. One thing that I was slightly disappointed with however was the CGI. I was expecting the scenes featuring the chipmunks to be the best element of the transfer, but they are actually some the weakest. Of course it all comes down to the somewhat lacklustre animation rather than any flaw with the transfer itself. Other than this, the image looks superb.

Audio
Again, the technical merits of this disc are light-years ahead of the actual film. The DTS-HD soundtrack here is loud, highly detailed and a joy to listen to. The audio works best when Alvin and company are singing and dancing, but it also sounds good during the quieter scenes. As with the transfer, the sound on this Blu-ray disc will not disappoint.

Extras
‘Chip-Chip Hooray! Chipmunk History’ is pretty much what it sounds, a look back at the history of the Chipmunks. Finally on this disc is ‘Hitting the Harmony’, a look at the real musicians behind the film’s many songs. And that’s your lot folks.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Overall
Alvin and the Chipmunks might split people down the middle as to whether you’ll like or loathe it, but from my experience I found it to be an enjoyable but still deeply flawed family film. The video and audio aspects of the disc however are quite the contrary, providing a solid if not excellent picture and sound experience. There isn’t much in the way of special features on the disc, meaning there’ll undoubtedly be a double-dip at some point in the near future.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.


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