Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Review

Even though they were created in the early ‘80s to expand the possible demographic, the Chipettes should have been called the Chickmunks. Sure, it sounds a little too similar, but with a little annunciation and a dash (Chick-munks), the difference is there. Besides, the Chick-munks sound exactly the same, wear the same colors, and are even the same shapes, so making the name sound alike is just one less bit of creativity for these soulless corporate drones to carry.

This Squeakquel (okay, that’s way worse than Chipettes) is as mind-numblingly ridiculous as you would expect, and completely paper-thin. Sadly, this junk actually doubled the box office of The Princess and the Frog, a sad statement about this current generation who are being sugar-fed the same CG garbage day in and day out.

There are two stories at work in this unnecessary follow-up. In one, the Chipet.. err, Chick-munks somehow find the money to Fed Ex themselves to the same record company as seen in the original film. There, in no way surprising, they find themselves picked up by Ian (David Cross), the record exec who is now down on his luck after losing the Chipmunks contract. Their story is a direct carbon copy of the original film, so you can ignore this.

With Jason Lee apparently only signing a contract for a few scenes (smart man), Dave Seville is on the sidelines. Replacing him is Toby (Zachary Levi), the stereotypical gamer who could care less about the rodents, but is gunning for a world title in some video game that is never mentioned because the sponsors wouldn’t pay for the cheap plug. Of course, others did, including Nintendo (and you can’t really argue about Toys for Tots getting screen time no matter how they crammed it in there), further cheapening this production as a whole.

The Chipmunks need to learn to work together without their father figure, being sent to school for the first time. Apparently, talking Chipmunks are immediately sent to their freshman year of high school on day one. Who knew?

Misadventures ensue, they get into trouble, and all the while, the Chipmunks and Chick-munks learn to work together for that warm, positive message we all saw coming. The animation looks cheaper than the first film in every scene, and we’re guaranteed a sequel. Help us all.

Movie ★☆☆☆☆ 

Like the first movie on Blu-ray, this is pure eye candy… except for the fact that you’re watching The Squeakquel. Colors are incredibly bold, rich, and saturated. At times, arguably too much, such as the piano inside Ian’s suite. It does not bleed, but does produce such a vivid red hue, it appears as if it is glowing.

The greens and blues of Theodore and Simon’s shirts also tend to appear a bit noisy. Given the texture, it is difficult to discern whether this is noise from the source animation or artifacting. On the positive side of that, the detail is simply staggering in nearly all frames of this movie. Every surface reveals a fully delineated texture.

The leather chair in the Seville home, the clothes everyone wears, fur during close-ups of the Chip/Chickmunks, facial definition on human characters, and the foliage outside the Seville residence (likely re-used footage from the first movie) is stunning. Individual blades of grass on the football field or when the Chipmunks are outdoors getting onto the bus are visible far into the distance.

Black levels are deep and inky, with no noticeable crush to interfere with the reference level of detail. Sharpness never takes a significant dip. The bright contrast can bloom (the zoo visit), although this seems to only negatively affect the background objects/characters. Flesh tones are accurate, and the sporadic softness that marginally hindered the first film is not an issue here. A bit of stock footage used to show the Staples Center and some weak cable-quality HD footage of Animal Planet (another product plug) are no fault of this gorgeous AVC encode from Fox.

Video ★★★★★ 

The opening musical act is a bit disappointing. It completely lacks punch, so despite a nice immersive quality with the screaming crowd (especially the outdoor concert in Mexico), it sound flat. Instruments seem forced into the background, and the Chipmunk voice work doesn’t contain a full ear-piercing quality.

Later musical numbers, especially the final school concert benefit, finally seem to kick it up a notch. Everything sounds cleaner and crisper. The subwoofer becomes involved, and the bleed into the surrounds becomes evident.

Action is contained to the front channels until the finale, leaving the widely split stereo channels to handle the majority of the positional audio. During the end chase, the group hangs onto a remote control helicopter that nicely zips through front to back. It is lively, and undoubtedly effective. The rest of this surprisingly dialogue-driven affair relies on minimal ambiance (birds chirping, school hallway chatter) that is hardly noticeable at best.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

The extra features are generally too short to be of any real value, and of course aimed at the younger set. Eight featurettes total around 50 minutes. There is a mildly amusing fake documentary about the Chipmunks on the set called Behind the Squeaking. The making of pieces like Music Mania and A-nut-omy of a Scene feel promotional.

An interactive music trivia game is included, direct scene selections to each song, and a music maker for the kids are fine for their intended demographic. Two deleted scenes, Live Look-up support, and trailers (They’re making a sequel to Space Chimps as well?) remain.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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