It’s a mekheye for me to be able to start a brand new year’s worth of
columns with something positive for a change, (kanehora,) so let’s hope
this is a good omen and 2008 beings me many more opportunities to do this.
I do a lot of kvetching about the over use of computer generated imagery.
Actually, my issues are more with the misuse of the technology, as a way to
attempt to conceal weak storylines, bad writing, or fardrek acting. But
once in a while, something comes along that blends good writing, passable
casting, and CGI in such a way that one’s disbelief is suspended as if my magic.
Such is the case with “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” I grew up with David Seville
and his rascally rodents, and loved them. I don’t know how many copies of
“Christmas with the Chipmunks” I wore out as a kid. The shrill cry of “Aaaaaalviiiiiiiiiiiiiin!”
became almost a rally cry for kids from coast to coast.
Okay, I admit, I had misgivings at first, considering what a disappointment
“Underdog” was, (they could at least have gotten someone to imitate the voice of
Wally Cox for the superpooch, instead of making him sound like Michael
J. Fox on Prozac.) My fear was that like so many attempts before it, this
one would make the crooning critters too realistic thereby making their hijinks
implausible. But what might have had Ross Bagdasarian spinning in his
crypt, has left him to rest in proud peace, because “Alvin and the Chipmunks”
is, as we said in the seventies, “Outta Sight!” The screenwriters, John Vitti
and Will McRobb, did an admirable job in translating cartoon to live
action, and Jason Lee was superb as the updated version of David Seville.
But the real kudos go to the voices behind the images. Justin Long,
(Alvin,) Matthew Gray Gubler, (Simon,) and Jesse McCartney were
amazing in how they were able to pull off the voices, using the same technology,
(archaic by today’s standards) to make their voices sound like the originals,
all of whom were done by Ross Bagdasarian himself. Likewise, Alberto Abril,
(the chief animator,) who somehow managed to flawlessly combine the realistic
qualities of live chipmunks with the cartooning charm of his three legendary
This one is a must see for anyone who grew up with the Chipmunks, and for anyone
who wants to once again feel the warm fuzzies of their childhood. Ross
Bagdasarian Jr. did his father’s legacy proud with this film, (Ross
Bagdasarian Sr. passed away in 1972 from a heart attack,) and I’ll wager
bucks to bagels that the senior Bagdasarian is shepen nakhes in heaven.