Alvin and the Chipmunks movies are the kind of kiddie film we’ve mostly given up on reviewing, because previous installments are not only terrible, but our demo doesn’t give a shit about them. We’re not going to make some poor critic suffer through a shitty kid’s film for a review that no one will read.
Yesterday, however, for reasons that are unimportant, I had to take the kids and leave the house for two hours, and Alvin and the Chipmunks seemed like a reasonable enough diversion. I had not seen any of the previous three movies (yes, 3!) and the kids love the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song, so how bad could it be?
Bad. Worse than you might imagine. Or maybe precisely what you might imagine spending 90-minutes with high-pitched chipmunks who sing terrible songs and deliver god-awful puns might feel like. It was agonizing. Straight-up brutal. As if the Chipmunks and the songs and the fart jokes and the aimless plot wasn’t bad enough, seeing people like Jason Lee, and Retta, and Tony Hale and even Uzo Aduba reduced to roles like this only makes it worse, and there’s only so much solace one can take in the knowledge that at least it keeps them employed.
The kids, though: They liked it. And I guess that’s what matters with a movie like this. I try not to hold it against them because they are young and don’t know any better, but to hear them say, “That was awesome, Daddy, can we watch the next one?” was hurtful. Even if they are only three, I like to think that I have raised them better.
That failure is on me.
What I don’t understand about this movie — and other movies of their ilk — is that when a film is so specifically targeted at very young children, why do filmmakers feel the need to try and badly throw the adults a bone? You know what? I didn’t need a Chipmunks rendition of “Baby Got Back,” and my kids have never heard the song nor understand what “having back” means. I also don’t need crotch shots, or long lingering camera shots of bikini-clad women next to swimming pools.
What I’m saying is: Don’t fucking bother. Make your shitty movie appeal to little kids, and keep your bad adult humor out of it, because we don’t give a shit, and it’s not going to make the experience any less brutal.
And if you are a parent, I know that two hours of quiet time during the holidays may sound appealing, and the idea of pleasing your children may be too much to resist, but it’s not worth it. The only thing worse than suffering through Alvin and the Chipmunks is the crushing disappointment in seeing the joy on their faces while watching it.