The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)

David, Are You Drunk?

I had actually found this movie for the purpose of reviewing many months before it was requested of me.  And when it was actually requested of me, I was very excited.  This movie was a staple in my childhood.  I don’t really remember being that huge of a fan of the characters that star in this movie, but I can only assume that I was.  Whether I was or not, I distinctly remember loving this movie in my childhood.  But watching this kind of movie is dangerous as it risks ruining a fond childhood memory.  Though it has not yet done it in the course of my reviews, it’s happened before with things like Bobby’s World.  I used to love that show when I was a kid, but when I purchased a DVD of it in adulthood, I found it extremely painful to sit through.  I hope that my Friendboss Josh has not caused another Bobby’s World situation today.  We’ll find out in my review of The Chipmunk Adventure, written by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman, directed by Janice Karman, and starring the voices of Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman, Susan Tyrrell, Anthony De Longis, Dody Goodman, Frank Welker, Ken Sansom, and Nancy Cartwright.

David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian Jr.) is leaving to Europe on a business trip and leaving his … sons? … the Chipmunks – Alvin (Bagdasarian), Simon (Bagdasarian), and Theordore (Janice Karman) – in the care of Ms. Miller (Dody Goodman).  A little later, Alvin is playing an arcade game version of Around the World in Thirty Days against Brittany (Karman), the leader of the Chipettes – with Jeanette (Karman) and Eleanor (Karman).  The game starts an argument between Alvin and Brittany about who would actually be faster in a race around the world.  Coincidentally, two diamond smugglers named Claudia (Susan Tyrrell) and Klaus Vorstein (Anthony De Longis) are sitting in the same restaurant discussing their need for inconspicuous people to go around the world and make their diamond drops in various places.  They tell the chipmunks that they are just two eccentric billionaires that would like to give them the opportunity to actually hold a race.  Each team will follow a separate route and drop off a doll that is made in their own likeness, picking up a doll with the likeness of the opposing team.  The winner of the race will receive $100,000.  After tricking Miss Miller, the chipmunks set off on their adventure to unwittingly deliver blood diamonds around the globe.  It probably won’t go smoothly for either team, but I’m sure they’ll overcome … with the power of music!

Buckle in, people.  I’ve got a lot to say about this movie and the concept behind it.  That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie because I did.  I can’t say for sure if I liked it more than I should have given my own predisposition towards liking it, but I was still very fond of the movie.  I grant that it’s definitely a children’s movie, but I think it’s still enjoyable.  The story can’t really be called the most creative thing because the bulk of it can be said to be based on Around the World in 80 Days, and the story that gets the Chipmunks involved in that is a little impractical.  As crazy as these two criminals may have been, it just does not seem like the brightest of ideas to hand millions of dollars in diamonds and cash to six bickering children.  And even if it was a good idea, how the hell did these criminals get all of this set up in what seemed to be a matter of 12 hours?  They had set up detailed routes, two hot air balloons, hand-crafted dolls in the likeness of the two separate teams filled with diamonds and cash, and just as elaborate methods of making the drop which involve things like a robotic sombrero that switches the dolls and things built into ancient Mayan temples.  If they had the time to set all of this crap up, I’m sure they’re ingenious enough to make the drops themselves.  Well, they’ll get what’s coming to them in the end.  Of course, though the two bad guys acted completely evil, I was never fully sure what they were doing that was illegal in the first place.  It’s not illegal to sell diamonds as far as I know, and I was given no information to lead me to believe that the diamonds were acquired in a dishonest fashion.  Maybe they don’t get into that kind of thing in a kid’s movie.  There was also a part in the movie where the Chipmunks were captured by cannibals and Theodore was made their God.  They eventually decided they were going to sacrifice the three of them, which just made me mad that Pirates of the Caribbean so clearly ripped this idea off from this movie.  Hey, Loni!  The look of the movie was also pretty good.  The backgrounds were very pretty and usually very colorful and the animation was over the top, but appropriate.  I felt it wasn’t always realistic, like when they went to Mexico and the place was clean and there wasn’t a donkey show in sight.

One thing that amused me about this movie was that almost every predicament that the two teams got themselves into could be solved with a song and dance routine.  One such occasion was when the Chipettes had been captured by a young Arabian prince.  They found the dolls they needed in a room with snakes all over the place as guards.  They turned to each other and said, “How do we get our dolls back?” to which I replied, “Duh!  With a song and dance number!”  And it turns out I was right!  The good thing about them solving every problem with a song and dance routine was that the songs were really catchy and I enjoyed every one of them.  I especially liked the song they sang when they met up at one point and decided to see who could “out rock” the other by singing a song called The Girls and Boys of Rock and Roll.  When I was trying to remember this movie before I rewatched it, this was the moment I remembered the most clearly.  I really liked the song, but it occurred to me that, if they indeed intended to see who was able to out rock the other team, it may have been a good decision to have an audience present.  Neither team is going to be impartial enough to give it to their opponent, so you really didn’t solve anything, did you?

One major question I had about this movie will most likely never be answered in any of the movies: When are these chipmunks going to bang it out already?  They seem to me to be clearly designed to be carbon copies of each other with different genitalia, so it just seems inevitable.  But then I started thinking: What would happen if these chipmunks got together?  My belief is that Alvin and Brittany would be furiously on-again, off-again in their relationship, their egos being far too big to stick around with the other for too long.  They would probably remarry each other 27 times before they finally just killed each other.  Simon and Jeanette would work out perfectly together, and their relationship would probably give themselves the time and the intelligence to cure some major disease.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a good future in store for Theodore and Eleanor.  Sure, they’d get along great, and probably love each other very much.  The problem would be that they would still love each other no matter what they looked like, and they both love eating so much that they would become morbidly obese, and then just become morbid (dead).  Of course, they could just get lucky and lose a foot to the diabetes.

The characters in the movie are pretty one dimensional, but it’s what we expect.  I think you can also get a bit of a sign of the times from this.  You see, Simon is the intelligent one in the Chipmunks, and he’s usually right about everything he says.  When he tells the Chipettes that they shouldn’t head in a certain direction because he read that there was a hurricane coming, he was right.  The sign of the times from this is that the smart one of the Chipettes never really seemed that intelligent, and in this case had to ask Simon his opinion on which direction they should go because, though she’s smart amongst the other ladies, she’s still inferior to the man.  I can get behind the idea of them being too stubborn to change direction, and even to think that Simon would tell them something to make them go in the wrong direction, but when you’ve been told a hurricane is in that direction and you’re flying directly towards thundering black clouds, maybe you get it through your thick skull.  It was also funny to me that the two bad henchmen in the movie were a black dude and a Mexican dude.  Granted, the two main villains were white, or at least white-ish in the case of the guy.  I felt like the villains hammed it up a little much, but I suppose that’s not atypical for a cartoon.  But why did Miss Miller look like Cruella DeVille if she really let herself go?  She was a perfectly nice lady.  And if Eleanor was the Theodore of the Chipettes, why was she only slightly chubby?  Just hate fatties, do ya movie?!  I caught myself criticizing something stupid at one point when I started asking why the baby penguin was wearing a locket around it’s neck with a picture of it’s parents.  Since it was just an animal, I assumed that the people that took the baby penguin put that around it’s neck to torment it, which is just a dick move.  Later, when I saw the scenes of the baby penguin in it’s crib in the igloo it lived in with it’s parents, I began to realize the problem in my logic with complaining about anthropomorphizing animals in a movie about talking chipmunks.

Sure, I had a lot to say about The Chipmunk Adventures, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane.  The story was fairly basic and there were plenty of things that didn’t make sense, but the songs that can solve any problem are so catchy that I didn’t care.  The characters are all fairly one dimensional and have nothing resembling a character arc, but you would only be looking for that if you for some reason were watching this and completely unaware of the fact that you were watching a kid’s movie.  I found the movie still holds up as completely enjoyable, and those of you with kids will have even more reason to watch it.  I don’t really know where you’ll find a copy of this, but I’m sure you can get a DVD somewhere.  The Chipmunk Adventure gets “Well, somebody has to win the race” out of “That’s enough, you guys!”

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