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Film: Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks is a series of live-action films based on the musically gifted trio of chipmunks, the first one written by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi of The Adventures of Pete & Pete and KaBlam! fame.

The first movie, simply titled Alvin and the Chipmunks, was released during the 2007 Christmas season, and was a typical origin story. In it, three somewhat humanoid chipmunk brothers — hot-headed Alvin, brainy Simon, and portly Theodore — end up in LA after their tree of residence is cut down and driven there en route to becoming a Christmas tree. They stow away in the basket of struggling songwriter Dave Saville (My Name Is Earl's Jason Lee), and he promptly kicks them out of the house after finding them... only to let them back in after hearing the three singing outside. Dave strikes a deal with the youngsters: they sing his songs, and he lets them stay in his house.

The Chipmunks become a smash pop group and Dave is not so down on his luck anymore, but their greedy record executive, Ian Hawke (Arrested Development's David Cross), schemes to have the chipmunks all for himself by enticing them with expensive gifts. Can the chipmunks resist Ian's temptations, will Dave be able to rekindle his realtionship with ex-girlfriend Claire, and most importantly, will Dave and the chipmunks learn the importance of family?

Although it was met with less than enthusiastic reviews, the first movie was a surprise hit, taking in an impressive $359 million on a budget of merely $60 million. Even though he wasn't thrilled with the movie, Roger Ebert remarked — à la his review of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie — that it was "about as good as a movie with these characters can probably be" and that it might've done "something satirical about rock stars and the hype machine." Either way, the movie helped reinvigorate interest in the characters. Obviously, the money made with this movie would make a sequel a sure thing, right?

Fast forward to 2009, where Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel opened on Christmas Day to robust grosses despite lots of popular competition such as James Cameron's Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and The Princess and the Frog. In this one, the Chipmunks are enrolled in school by Dave and must try to fit in with their human peers, a struggle made even tougher since they were former celebrities. Meanwhile, Ian, struggling to get back on his feet after the chipmunks ditched him for a normal life on account of him being a scumbag, seems to have finally found replacements for his former employees in the form of the Chipette sisters: brash Brittany, brainy Jeanette, and portly Eleanor. Just like the three male chipmunks, the Chipettes are somewhat humanoid, and as such are capable of human speech and, by extension, singing. Can the Chipettes be just as successful, and will vengeance on the chipmunks finally be Ian's?

As the Squeakquel did well for itself, the third film was released in December 2011 and entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Oh yes, really. The Chipmunks and Chipettes go on a cruise and get shipwrecked. Like the first two, it wasn't well-received by critics.

NOTE: Tropes under here are specifically for the live action/CGI movies.


The Alvin and the Chipmunks movies provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion
    • Dave saying "You know, if I made a list of my worst days ever, guess what, today would be at the top of the list" is a reference to him making a list he makes as Earl Hickey.
    • At one point, Alvin shouts "Yippee ki yay, mamacita!" The voice of Alvin, Justin Long, was in one of the Die Hard films.
    • In the 2009 sequel, Alvin knows the Five Ds of Dodgeball, in which Justin Long, voice of Alvin, appeared in as well.
  • Advertised Extra: Jeanette gets severely shafted on Character Development, having around ten lines in the entire film (minus the singing of course).
  • Adult Fear: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked gives us the thought of anybody going overboard while on a cruise ship.
    • The first one has its fair share of this, too. Ian was blatantly setting up the Chipmunks to burn out at a young age so that he could squeeze some fast money out of them. It must be horrifying to parents of young stars.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Both Chipmunks and Chipettes.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Chipmunks and Chipettes, unlike their earlier incarnations.
  • Basement-Dweller: Toby
  • Berserk Button: In The Squeakquel, Simon says they won't solve anything with violence, but then he sees the bullies making fun of Theodore and he goes ballistic.
  • Big "NO!": Ian does this in a Crowning Moment of Funny near the end of the first movie when he discovers the chipmunks escaped from his clutches by replacing themselves with their Spanish-speaking dolls.
    "¡Madre de Dios! ¡NOOOOOOOOOO!"
  • Blown Across the Room: Happens to Dave in the second films opening, when a giant cardboard prop breaks loose and smacks right into him, literally sending him sailing through the air! This unintentionally sets up the plot, as Dave is heavily crippled and bed ridden for the rest of the movie.
  • Brick Joke: When Dave first meets the Chipmunks he says, "Squirrels can't talk!" At end of the movie Ian is trying to start a new band with squirrels... who can't talk.
  • Cassandra Truth: In the 2011 movie, Simon really does go looking for Alvin. He just absentmindedly hopped on that lever, thus winning the jackpot. It's just contrived coincident that the usher presented him with a platter full of winning, in front of Dave.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The necklace and the Swiss Army knife in the third movie.
  • Chipmunk Mail: In the second movie, the Chipettes mailed themselves to Jett Records in a FedEx package. They weren't aware that Ian Hawke was out of a job now since the events of the first movie.
  • Clueless Aesop: The first movie has a story/moral in which the three chipmunks realise that fame and fortune is not all it is cracked out to be, and leave the seemingly superficial lifestyle, and the money, behind to enjoy an apparently better down-to-earth life with Dave. Family being more important that materialism is a fairly common aesop... but when one realises that the movie is completely merchandise-driven, and was made to sell tickets, CDs, toys, video games and other merchandise, the moral of turning your back on materialism seems kind of hollow.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ian
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Never once in the second CGI/live-action movie does Brittany wear a black leather jacket as portrayed in a poster.
    • In the 2011 movie, a poster portrays Alvin, Simon and Theodore surfing. Never once do they surf in Chipwrecked.
    • Or the fact neither Chipmunk nor Chipette wore clothes as shown in these posters during the movie. Not to mention they got Eleanor's fur color wrong.
  • Dedication / In Memoriam: Alvin and the Chipmunks, at the end, we got "This film is dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who was crazy enough to invent three singing chipmunks nearly fifty years ago."
  • Demoted to Extra: David in the second film, due to a prop mishap during a charity concert crippling him, thus putting him out of commission for the rest of the movie, prompting him to send the chipmunks with a relative.
  • Dinky Drivers
  • Eat the Evidence / I Ate What?: In a scene in the first movie, Dave sees a little pellet of poop behind Theodore. Simon claims it's just a raisin, but Dave is skeptical. His hand forced, Simon eats the so-called raisin. After a satisfied Dave leaves the room, Simon scowls at Theodore and says, "You owe me big time." Curiously, Alvin was the one in the trailer who ate Theodore's poop.
  • Enemy Mine: Dave and Ian when stranded in Chipwrecked.
  • Evil Uncle: Ian plays this role to the Chipmunks in the 2007 movie and then to the Chipettes in its sequel.
  • Facepalm: Ian gets this in the first movie when the Chipmunks wreck the recording room from drinking coffee.
  • Fore Shadowing
    • In the first movie, Ian has a Simon doll that spoke French, calling himself "Simone". In the third movie, Simon's alter ego calls himself "Simone", speaking in a French accent provided by Alan Tudyk.
    • In the 2009 sequel, Simon falling into a bedpan, picking up Toby's half-eaten taco and complaining that he feels like living in a dump foreshadows Ryan tossing him into a trashcan and them being tossed into the dump itself.
    • Likewise, Theodore stands next to a brochure for the Los Angeles Zoo. Guess where he runs away to later in the movie?
  • Franchise Killer: Although the first movie did respark an interest in the Chipmunks franchise, many fans weren't exactly impressed with the movie... and were even less impressed with the Squeakquel, and even less so with Chipwrecked. And now that a fourth movie has, indeed, been confirmed by Bagdasarian Productions to be in the works, a vast majority of the fanbase is banging their heads on the walls.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Ian says this when he "forgets" his keys to "his" penthouse suite that he's bringing the Chipettes to live with him.
    Ian: Oh darn it! Gosh darn it to heck!
    Brittany: What's wrong, Mr. Hawke?
  • Groin Attack: In The Squeakquel, Ian gets hit in the crotch with a remote-controlled toy motorcycle.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Ian in the third movie. He's still kind of a dick, but he does help Dave and the Chipmunks get off the island.
  • Helium Speech: Turned on its head in the first movie with Alvin inhaling helium, only to speak in a low-pitched voice.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: In Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Theodore gets stuck in a cage at the zoo and Eleanor gets stuck in the mail slot of an apartment complex.
  • Hollywood Nerd: This appears to be how Simon is portrayed in this universe. He's intelligent, but doesn't act like a total dork.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Though the Chipmunks get a fair enough of screen time and focus, it still follows the "unlucky guy in love has cartoon characters as pets" formula.
  • Humanlike Hand Anatomy: The Chipmunks and the Chippettes have human-like hands but are otherwise very much like chipmunks.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Ian hangs a particular nasty lampshade, first stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to, then immediately doing so incredibly sarcastically.
  • Jerkass
    • Ian in all three live action/CGI movies, though mostly dropped during the second half of the third movie, however.
    • The school bullies in The Squeakquel.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In The Squeakquel, when Ian calls the principal out for being biased in favor of the Chipmunks and not allowing a democratic vote.
  • Live-Action Adaptation
  • Logo Joke: The teaser for the second movie features the Chipmunks doing an acapella of the 20th Century Fox fanfare while dancing around the TCF structure. Unfortunately, it's trailer-exclusive.
  • Meaningful Name: The bad guy's name is Ian Hawke. Hawks are, of course, natural enemies of chipmunks.
  • No Chipmunks Were Harmed: At the end of the first movie's credits.
  • Not So Different: When Simon loses his personality, Alvin has to become the authority figure in Chipwrecked. When he tries to stop Simon from dancing with Jeanette, this happens:
    Alvin: SSSSIIIIIIMMMMOOOONNNNNNNNNN!!!!
    Brittany: Um Alvin, you're starting to sound like Dave.
    Alvin: Nooooooooooooooooo!
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The Squeakquel.
  • Oh Crap: In Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, a hospitalized Dave calls home, unaware that his irresponsible cousin Toby is watching the boys. On the other hand, Toby picks up the phone, thinking its Julie:
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: Eleanor in The Squeakquel, because Ian insists she has to be taller when onstage.
  • Put on a Bus: Despite being Dave's love interest, and a key character in the first film, Claire is nowhere to be found in either The Squeakquel or Chipwrecked. This is mainly because Cameron Richardson refused to reprise the role, as she strongly disliked being in the first film.
  • Projectile Toast: In the first movie.
  • Pun-Based Subtitle
    • For the second movie, The Squeakquel.
    • And in the third movie, Chipwrecked.
  • Reality Subtext: The Squeakuel involved Brittany being elevated to the front of the band against their wishes. Reminiscent of the naming of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" no doubt, but what song are they rehearsing? "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé, who went through this in Real Life.
  • Robinsonade: The main plot of the third movie is the main characters being stranded on an island.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: All three chipmunks did something wrong in their cover-up of their inappropriate behavior. Simon was holding a book upside-down and Dave corrects him.
  • Shout-Out: See the main shout out page for the franchise.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Used in the finale of The Squeakquel. Despite having never practiced, the six chipmunks pull off a rather impressive dance number.
  • Starring Special Effects
  • The Stinger
    • In the first movie, Ian trying, and failing, to get completely un-humanoid squirrels to sing.
    • In the second, after the Chipettes realize that Ian is evil and go live with Dave and the Chipmunks, at bedtime, Alvin insists he isn't tired, thus leading him to turn the lights on every time Dave turns them off, and as for Ian, he still goes to the gig, complete with puppets of two of the Chipettes and his dressed as the third. The gig bombs and Ian is thrown into a dumpster.
  • That Poor Cat: We hear a poor cat screech in the first movie when a frustrated Dave throws his music equipment into the yard.
  • Third Act Misunderstanding: In the first movie, Dave writes a letter explaining why he wants them to leave, which he immediately throws out because he realizes he cares too much for them. Of course, a few weeks later, Theodore has another nightmare and goes into his room and finds the crumpled paper next to the trash bin and shows it to his brothers. The Chipmunks assume Dave really does hate them and go live with Ian. It's a foregone conclusion they eventually reconcile.
  • Trailers Always Lie
    • In one of the trailers for the first movie, Alvin eats Theodore's poop when instead it was Simon. In fact, Alvin wasn't even in the scene at the time hence he was taking a shower in the dishwasher. Also, they didn't have their iconic sweaters yet and the voice that comes out of Alvin's mouth isn't Justin Long, it sounds like Ross Bagdasarian Jr. And when Theodore whimpers at the end, it sounds higher like Janice Karman did it instead of Jesse Mc Cartney.
    • For the second movie, Simon catches a dodge ball and sends it flying into an opposing player, knocking him out. First off, it was Alvin who caught the ball, though unlike where Simon just caught the ball, Alvin skids a little back and revealing that he caught it. And the guy who was hit was Toby during his flashback.
    • Also in the second movie, Simon and Theodore are seen cheering during a football game, which doesn't happen in the movie.
    • There was also a scene in the trailer that showed the Chipetttes as cheerleaders.
  • Twice Shy: Simon and Jennet in the third movie.
  • Villain Ball: Ian's plan in the second film was working fine until he threatened the Chipettes just because they all wanted equal partnership in the performance. Although he doesn't explicitly state his reasons, these actions do make sense in keeping with Ian's character. As a record producer, he probably knows that girl bands are more or less currently out of vogue and the real success is in single-name acts, like Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Elevating the more photogenic Brittany to the front while reducing Jeanette and Eleanor to backup singers probably makes sense business-wise. Since he's a Jerkas,s however, he does this through evil means.
  • You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: In the sequel, while playing dodgeball:
    Simon: Glasses! Glasses! You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would you?! (gets hit by a dodge ball) Right in the pancreas.


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