Directed by Don Spencer
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 66 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 16.99
Release Date: April 1, 2008
Review Date: March 25, 2008
Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies is actually a compilation of three episodes from the Chipmunks’ 1990 television series. Since all three programs revolve around plots which reference three big movie hits, it’s a logical combination for this trio of programs. Sad to say, the entertainment value is slight in the first two, rising only a bit more in the third.
The first program is a riff on Honey, We Shrunk the Kids only this time Dave (Ross Bagdasarian) and babysitter Zelda Miller (Dody Goodman) get reduced in size by Simon’s matter modulator while Alvin and the new next door neighbors run amuck. Apart from the songs “Short People” and “Danger Ahead,” there isn’t much fun to be found here, the slapstick shenanigans falling totally flat.
The second installment is a bit better as Big gets the Chipmunk treatment. Alvin, depressed that he can’t go to concerts or drive a car because he isn’t old enough, wishes himself to be grown, and a magic jukebox grants his wish where he learns that being an adult isn’t always very much fun. The Chipettes make an appearance here (playing a girl rock group called “The Babes”) and reprise “The Girls of Rock and Roll” that they sang in The Chipmunk Adventure. “I Wanna Be Big” and “I Love Rock and Roll” are also sung during the 22 minutes of this installment.
The third and best of the episodes takes Back to the Future as its jumping off point. Genius inventor Clyde Crashcup (without Dayton Allen’s wonderful original voice but with a reasonable facsimile) invents a time machine that carries the boys back to 1957 where they meet their original conceptions (which brought back many fond memories of The Alvin Show with the three Chipmunks and David Seville looking exactly as I remembered them) and the boys decide to switch places with them. The 1957 Chipmunks love the future with its CDs and color TVs while the modern Chipmunks find the past quaint and kind of charming as they begin their vocal careers with “Alvin‘s Harmonica" and “The Alvin Twist.” This third installment is really the reason the disc had any entertainment value for me at all.
It’s very typical TV animation of the period meaning that the lines are simple, the action reduced in size and movement, and the sound design uninspired. Still, young kids still respond to the mischief of Alvin and his brothers, and for those with fond memories of this most recent TV series featuring the singing rodents, this DVD will be most welcome.
The programs’ 1.33:1 television aspect ratios are true to the original broadcasts. These films look very dated with color that doesn’t often sparkle and images that are a bit dirty. The opening title sequence is especially washed out and lackluster. Some of the images are surprisingly soft while others look somewhat sharper and truer, but visually, this is disappointing. Each program is divided into 3 chapters.
The disc features a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, but even the music sequences only sound feebly stereophonic. It’s a very centered mix with only the most minimal spread into the front surround channels.
There are no bonus features on the disc at all, not even trailers for other Paramount kid-friendly releases.
Recommended only for fans of the rascally rodents, Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies only makes one long for some distribution company to release the real gems: the twenty-six half hour episodes of The Alvin Show. This is indeed a pale substitute.