Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Than Nostalgia: The Chipmunk Adventure

Before animated groups like Gorillaz came along, Alvin and the Chipmunks was taking the world by storm and topping charts with songs like “Witch Doctor” and “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”. Debuting in 1958, creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. used the stage name David Seville and the project began as novelty recordings. The group became a huge hit, selling countless records and holding several number one hits. Under the moniker of hand puppets, they soon went from multi-platinum selling artist to animated television series and features. Alvin and the Chipmunks has become a household name, merging classic Chipmunk songs with their instantly recognizable animated personas. After son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. took over after his father’s passing, their success culminated in the full-length animated feature film, The Chipmunk Adventure. While development issues led to poor sales in the box office, the film has remained a cult classic with a memorable story and catchy songs.

With guardian Dave Seville going away on a business trip in Europe, baby-sitter Miss Miller is called to take care of the boys, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. While Alvin’s attempts to sneak along and travel the world with Dave prove futile, he plays an arcade game called Around The World in Thirty Days with friends and rivals the Chipettes, Britanny, Jeanette, and Eleanor. Alvin and Brittany get caught up in an argument on who would actually win a race around the world, which catches the attention of two diamond smugglers, siblings Klaus and Claudia. They soon lure them into a hot air balloon race to smuggle their diamonds through chipmunk dolls, promising a prize of $100,000 for the winning team. This soon leads to a chase around the world, with Interpol agents, hostile natives, and secret operatives causing trouble and mayhem at every turn.

The Chipmunk Adventure has so many great points. With such strong characters in both the Chipmunks and Chipettes, they get involved in such a fun and exciting plot. Visiting such places like Istanbul, Egypt, Rome, and Venice, they truly capture the sense of adventure while still holding that possibility of jeopardy and trouble. With such a great soundtrack, one of the highest points in the film is the showdown between the two teams in Athens. With Brittany and Alvin seeking to prove they can "out rock and roll” each other, this leads to the memorable song “The Girls of Rock and Roll”. With classic moments with Dave, the clueless Miss Miller, the always-hungry Theodore, and more, The Chipmunk Adventure keeps it coming with fun, excitement, danger, and even some touching moments.

Like the songs that came before it, The Chipmunk Adventure has a great soundtrack. Starting with the main theme performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it sets an adventurous tone. There are great songs sung by both the Chipmunks and the Chipettes, such as the previously mentioned “The Girls of Rock and Roll” and the globetrotting “Off To See The World”. The Chipette song “My Mother” provides another high point, with the girls wistful over the loss of their mother. One of the most fun songs in the film is the Chipmunks’ “Wooly Bully”. Facing peril while hanging over a pool of crocodiles, they try to distract their captors and prevent their fall. The great music is a big part of what makes The Chipmunk Adventure so unforgettable.

Despite whatever notions or reputation the Chipmunks may receive now, there have been many high points in their long career. Their relevance or authenticity may be disputed, but The Chipmunk Adventure remains one of the best points as the first and original feature length film. Clocking in at under 90 minutes, the movie is a little on the short side. But with a new special edition DVD recently released with the accompanying soundtrack, it’s a great time to check out the film for the first time or see past the nostalgia and see how fun of an adventure it is.

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jadering,  May 17, 2008 at 12:22 PM  

Great review of a great children's classic that's interesting, fun, and light. The length of the movie is long enough to tell a complete story, yet short enough to hold a child's attention. I like that The Chipmunk Adventure is entertaining and adventurous but less cheesy than other cartoons I've seen before. I hope that generations to come still enjoy this movie.

Redskyy May 17, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

I think The Chipmunk Adventure manages to avoid those pitfalls by not talking down to the audience and creating a story that's fun and interesting enough for children and older audiences alike.

While there has since been direct-to-video releases and even a live-action movie, I would say this is still one of the pinnacles of the Chipmunks' career.

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