Western Animation: The Chipmunk Adventure

The Chipmunk Adventure is a 1987 American animated film featuring the characters from NBC's Saturday morning cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was directed by Janice Karman, one of the very few times women had done so for an animated feature. Produced by Ross Bagdasarian (Jr.), the movie was written by Karman and Ross Bagdasarian (Jr.). The film score was composed by Randy Edelman and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The film stars the voices of Karman, Bagdasarian, and Dody Goodman.

This marked the first appearance of the Chipmunks in a feature film since their 1958 debut. And it also was unsuccessful at the box office, just barely missing its budget of $6,804,312 with a gross of over $6 million, which Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife spent on an incredible amount of money on the 1980s show's revenue.

While Dave's away on a business trip, Alvin enters himself and Simon and Theodore in a hot-air balloon race around the world against the Chipettes to deliver dolls at certain locations for a group of diamond smugglers. The winners will collect a prize of $100,000.

NOTE: Tropes under here are specifically for the 1987 animated film.

The Chipmunk Adventure provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Animation Bump: Bagdasarian Productions picked up a lot of the Disney animators who were laid off after The Black Cauldron flopped.
  • Arranged Marriage: After the Chipettes are captured in Egypt, Brittany nearly ends up in one with a spoiled prince.
  • Award Bait Song: "My Mother", to a certain extent.
  • Belly Dancer: The Chipettes get dressed up like this. Not to mention that they also bare their midriffs.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Chipettes for The Chipmunks. See That Reminds Me of a Song below.
  • Big Damn Movie: Well, we got a round-the-world trip, diamond smuggling, and international intrigue...
  • Brother-Sister Team: Klaus and Claudia are a villainous example of this.
  • Butt Monkey: Klaus has his moments of this, usually at the hands — er, paws — of Sophie.
  • Chipmunk Sacrifice: The Chipmunks.
  • The Cover Changes The Gender: "The Girls of Rock and Roll." They changed every other recitation of the chorus to "We are the boys of rock and roll," so that the Chipmunks and Chipettes could have a Battle of the Sexes song.
  • Chase Scene: Many.
  • Covers Always Lie
    • In the original poster with the Chipmunks and Chipettes in their balloons, Alvin and Simon are in normal clothing, but Theodore was shown wearing his Prince of Plenty outfit, Simon was shown wearing the sombrero that he got during the drop-off at Mexico, and the Chipettes were in their Egyptian clothes. This is also prevalent on the DVD covers.
    • The 1998 VHS cover. While it depicts Alvin, Simon and Theodore about to be sacrificed to the alligators, on the VHS cover they're wearing their usual outfits, while they were all wearing something different during that scene in the actual film. And the same applies to the Chippettes, who are also wearing different outfits at this particular moment in the film, but are depicted wearing their normal outfits on the VHS cover. Finally, on both the DVD and VHS covers, Brittany's hair is blonde.
    • Taken to the extreme with the 2008 re-release cover. It shows the main baddies riding another hot-air balloon. They didn't ride one in the movie.
  • Dedication / In Memoriam: This movie was dedicated to both Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman's dog, Tiger Lily, who was killed by a car.
  • Distressed Dude: All three of the Chipmunks, who nearly end up as alligator food but are saved by the Chipettes Just in Time.
  • Epic Race
  • Foreshadowing: The arcade game that Alvin and Brittany play in the beginning of the movie is full of this, containing elements that they'll encounter when they take the trip for real. Could also double as a Rewatch Bonus.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: One poster.
  • Funny Afro: The Chipettes, of all characters, inadvertently gain them after a run-in with a hurricane offscreen.
  • Gagging on Your Words: Brittany can't bring herself to say she was wrong about the aforementioned hurricane, and changes the subject instead.
  • God Guise: Theodore is mistaken for a god by jungle natives, and he forces his brothers to be his slaves. Until all three are almost made a Chipmunk Sacrifice.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Both the Chipettes and the Chipmunks in different ways. Bonus points with the Chipmunks because two of them actually were made slaves.
  • Gold Tooth: Cuomo, one of Jamal's henchmen has one, which is constantly accompanied by an Audible Gleam.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Alvin and Brittany place a bet to see which group can "out rock and roll" the other, which leads up to "The Boys / Girls of Rock and Roll".
  • Hollywood Natives: The Chipmunks are taken by an Amazonian tribe who wear grass skirts and big floppy headdresses. They make Theodore their Prince of Plenty and plan to sacrifice him to a volcano.
  • Ironic Echo Cut:
    Simon: They're going to sacrifice Theodore tonight!
    Alvin: Over my dead body!
    (cut to the three of them suspended over a crocodile pit, about to be sacrificed)
    Simon: You mean over our dead bodies!
  • Incest Subtext: Klaus and Claudia are siblings, but sometimes they make you wonder if there isn't anything more going on between the two of them. Though they're probably just that close.
  • Interspecies Romance
    • The Arabian prince falls in love with Brittany and intends to make her one of his brides.
    • The Mexican girl who kissed Alvin in their "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (Cuanto le Gusta)" number.
  • MacGuffin: The dolls.
  • Made a Slave: The Fijian natives force Alvin and Simon to become slaves, to Theodore.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The diamonds hidden in the dolls.
  • Missed Him by That Much: During "The Boys and Girls of Rock and Roll" showdown in Athens, the kids come remarkably close to being discovered by both Dave and the two shady-looking men chasing them. Dave even gets a hilarious Look Behind You (the Viewer Stock Phrases version) moment at the very end of the song.
  • Mister Muffykins: Claudia's unpleasant little dog Sophie.
  • The Mole: Claudia's butler, Mario, is reporting directly to Inspector Jamal, who's been after the two siblings for years.
  • Obviously Evil: Both played with and played straight with FIVE characters. The viewers know what the 'Munks and 'Ettes don't know about the rich European "couple", but the two men following the kids, along with their shady employer, are actually cops.
  • Off Model: In addition to nabbing a bunch of fired Disney animators after The Black Cauldron flopped, Bagdasarian Productions outsourced the animation for this movie to various different animation houses all over the world (Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. even remarks the movie went to more countries than The Chipmunks and Chipettes did), and as such, there's a lot of noticeable inconsistencies with the character designs all throughout the movie.
  • Panty Shot: The Chipettes get lots of them. Seriously, was the radar broken?
  • Parental Love Song: Eleanor sings "My Mother", a lullaby about a mother's love to the baby penguin that Eleanor smuggled aboard their hot-air balloon.
  • Photo Montage: Briefly seen in "Off to See the World" with the girls taking photos of themselves in the different places they visit.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The two hot air balloons are color-coded like this.
  • Pretty in Mink: The girls wear fur-trimmed capes over their Belly Dancer outfits when they visit Antarctica.
  • Product Placement: Rare for an animated film, but Alvin is clearly eating from a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios in the scene where he and Theodore use the tape recorder to trick Miss Miller.
  • Quote Mine: In order to cover up their absence to Miss Miller, Alvin records Dave during a phone call, and then quote mines Dave's part of the conversation to convince Miss Miller (via another phone call) that Dave wants the kids to join him on his business trip. Hilarity Ensues when Theodore messes up with the tape recording, prompting Miss Miller to question Dave's sobriety.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby penguin.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The ending, with all six kids in the back of Miss Miller's car, and Alvin lamenting that he never got the prize money, or even a reward for catching Klaus and Claudia. Brittany comments that THEY were the ones who won the race, and an argument ensues, much to Dave's chagrin.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: At one point in the film, the Chipmunks are used as sacrifices for a group of alligators at a volcano on a tropical island. So what do they do? They spontaneously break out into the song "Wooly Bully" to entertain the natives and alligators as the Chipettes arrive for the rescue.
  • Scenery Porn: Just look for example at the beautiful scenery in "Off to See the World" or the "Girls of Rock and Roll".
  • Shout-Out: See the main shout out page for the franchise.
  • Siblings in Crime: Klaus and Claudia.
  • Spanner in the Works
    • Arguably, Eleanor. If she hadn't made the decision to convince her sisters to take the baby penguin back to his family in Antarctica, they wouldn't have run off course and attracted the attention of the villains, and in turn might never have found out about the diamonds and the true motive behind the race.
    • Miss Miller as well — it's thanks to her running the Vorsteins's car off the road (while on the way to pick up Dave from the airport) that Klaus and Claudia are finally apprehended at the end.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Claudia: What a brilliant idea this was of mine!
    Klaus: It's not over yet, Claudia.
    Claudia: What could go wrong? (smokes) Where's my coffee?
    [We cut to the kitchen, where their butler Mario is calling Jamal.]
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: A Running Gag has Theodore ordering food, only to be pulled away for some reason before he can eat it.
  • Threatening Shark: The girls encounter one in Bermuda, when dropping off their first doll.
  • Tickle Torture: Happens with a feather.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Throughout the film, we're led to believe the intimidating, swarthy Jamal is a rival villain with his own agenda. Turns out he's actually an Interpol agent and a good guy, which comes in handy during the climax.
  • Unwitting Pawn: None of the kids have any idea that the race is just a front for diamond-smuggling.
  • Voice Actors
  • We Have Your Babysitter: At the film's climax, Klaus and Claudia capture the kids by telling them they have Miss Miller hostage. It's a lie, of course — at that very moment she's driving to the airport to pick up Dave.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Klaus and Claudia make the fake threat to the kids of handing over the dolls in exchange for Miss Miller's safety, Alvin has to stop and think over whether it'd be better to just run or get Miss Miller back, whom none of the kids are very fond of as a scatterbrained babysitter despite being a nice woman. Simon calls him out on this.
  • You Got Spunk: Why the Arabian prince took an interest in Brittany.