A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel is low-key, amusing entertainment for both parents and kids, with a mix of verbal and slapstick humor and only a few crude jokes. With the introduction of girl Chipmunk group The Chipettes comes some flirting and suggestive hip-wiggling (similar to that of sexy starlets like Beyoncé and Shakira), which -- along with the infrequent use of phrases like "junk in the trunk" -- makes this sequel a little edgier than the original. But overall the movie focuses on family, togetherness, and acceptance and deals positively with school and peer pressure. Though the issue of body image comes up (at times, Theodore's weight is called to attention, as is that of his female counterpart, Eleanor), ultimately the message is one of liking yourself for who you are.
What's the story?
After an onstage mishap, Dave (Jason Lee) lands in a Paris hospital, and the Chipmunks wind up under the care of his doofus cousin Toby (Zachary Levi). Going to school for the first time, brothers, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore discover girls, bullies, and peer pressure; Alvin (voiced by Justin Long) is coaxed into joining the football team, which takes him away from his singing duties. Meanwhile, evil talent agent Ian (David Cross) returns -- having discovered all-girl chipmunk singing group The Chipettes -- and uses his same old nasty tactics to catapult the girls into the limelight. Trouble comes when Alvin's first big game falls on the same day as the big school talent show ... and The Chipettes are the main competition.
Is it any good?
This "squeakquel" from director Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch Movie, Dr. Dolittle) is not so much good as it is low-key, amusing, and painless. It has enough funny one-liners and bits of physical humor to entertain both kids and parents (especially if the parents are already Chipmunk fans). Crude humor is kept to a minimum, but Alvin's attempts at teen hipster talk may annoy parents and inspire impressionable kids to imitate him. And the Chipettes' dancing is designed to suggest many of today's pop starlets (Beyonce, Shakira, etc.) with some suggestive hip-wiggling.
But these quibbles come surprisingly infrequently. Overall, the movie doesn't try too hard for viewers' affections (it doesn't jump in your lap like a yapping puppy) and moves with speed and confidence. The songs are fun, the chipmunks are likeable, and the movie seems to have its heart in the right place. It may inspire some giggles and unexpected smiles from the whole family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about peer pressure. Why did Alvin join the football team, especially when he knew the game would conflict with the talent show? What did he hope to gain? Were the bullies really his friends?
How does the movie approach the subject of body image? Would it be different if the characters dealing with the issue were human instead of chipmunks?
Cousin Toby has spent a lot of time playing and mastering video games, but what good has it done him?
- In theaters: December 23, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 30, 2010
- Cast: Jason Lee, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Zachary Levi
- Director: Betty Thomas
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book characters, Music and sing-along
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.