I was thinking about "Alvin & the Chipmunks" some more, and... - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle
Jun. 20th, 2008
10:04 pm - I was thinking about "Alvin & the Chipmunks" some more, and...
After watching Alvin & the Chipmunks two or three times, I decided I hated Ian (David Cross), the head of Jett Records who signs up the Chipmunks and then works them too hard touring and singing crappy hip-hop songs. I like David Cross; I've seen a few segments from Mr. Show with Bob & David on YouTube, and David's funny in every one of them. (So's Bob, btw!) But I found myself hating Ian's guts. I know he's the villain, but after all it's just a movie. Why was I getting myself so worked up about it?
Then I figured it out: once Ian signs the Chipmunks to Jett Records, they never again perform a single piece of music I actually like throughout the rest of the movie (not counting the rock version of "Christmas Don't Be Late" that plays over the credits; I like that). But to me, Ian is a symbol of what's wrong with the movie, and more generally what's wrong with the entertainment industry nowadays. It's all soulless corporate product, chasing the hottest newest thing and the almighty dollar. Yeah, yeah, I know, when has it ever not been that?
But now what they're coopting is hip-hop and rap, which I just don't like. The music performed by Alvin & the Chipmunks has always more or less been a reflection of the current state of pop culture, and, well, I guess for me, this decade is musically the worst time for this movie to exist. Kind of like how Weird Al's albums have been getting harder to get into because now he's parodying stuff I generally refuse to listen to.
And even the Chipmunks themselves know what a travesty the second half of the movie is. Too bad the marketing department failed to notice. The song they're performing in the climactic scene is a slickly produced hip-hop number called "How We Roll", with lyrics about Escalades with drop-tops and getting "that greeeeeen". Not only is it not a Chipmunks song, it's pure Ian, whose catchphrase, established early in the movie, is "That's how I roll!" And if you bring up the DVD menu, what audio do you hear? A snippet of "How We Roll". The makers of this movie don't seem to notice that the song is as much a symbol of what's wrong as Ian is.
And then there's the "raisin" gag. When I first saw the teaser trailer for the movie, the raisin scene immediately turned me off to it. Thankfully there are no other potty-related scenes, except for one brief fart (which I could also do without. And I should point out that it was watching clips on YouTube that made me change my mind and buy the DVD. See, RIAA? See, Viacom? YouTube is not piracy; YouTube is free publicity.) But, well, it strikes me that it's guys like Ian that put things like the raisin scene in movies. Also, if you've seen the movie you may have noticed that the raisin scene is different from the trailer; Alvin is not present, and it's Simon who eats the "raisin". They wanted the gag in the trailer so bad, they animated it twice. That's depressing.
And speaking of the raisin scene, I read a comment in a review somewhere pointing out something I hadn't thought of about it: Dave does not abuse the Chipmunks. He does not beat them or hang them by their tails or anything else nasty like that. The most he ever does is yell at them a bit. Why, then, is Alvin (or Simon) so afraid of punishment that he's willing to eat Theodore's poop and pretend it's a raisin? Granted, that was right after the Chipmunks indirectly caused Dave to get fired from work, and it was the angriest they'd seen him at that point. Still, the scene is disgusting, uncomfortable, and unfunny, and I wanna go back in time and become a powerful executive at 20th Century Fox and make them take it out.
And as long as I'm talking about stuff I don't like, I don't think Jason Lee is really right as Dave Seville. I've got nothing against him, and he was really good as Buddy/Syndrome in "The Incredibles", but his voice just isn't right for this part. I wonder who might have made a better Dave. John Cusack? Edward Norton? Brendan Fraser? Someone else?