A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alvinnn!!! and the Chipmunks is a CGI reboot featuring the classic singing chipmunks led by mischievous Alvin. The characters' antics are similar to those on the original TV series and the more recent movies -- there's some mild crudity, slapstick humor, and general mayhem -- but there's an edge to it that comes from the boys being high school students in this story. Expect some boy/girl dynamics with flirting, crushes, and some allusions to concepts such as the birds and the bees. The stories try hard to promote positive messages about self-image, overcoming challenges, and being a good friend, but they're often overshadowed by the lighter aspects of this comical show.
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What's the story?
ALVINNN!!! AND THE CHIPMUNKS chronicles the antics of three brothers -- Alvin (voiced by Ross Bagdasarian Jr.), Simon (Bagdasarian again), and Theodore (Janice Karman) -- who just happen to be walking, talking chipmunks and singing sensations, making them big stars in their town and school. Led by the self-confident Alvin, the boys get into all kinds of wild adventures that call for scheming, which is Alvin's special talent, and drive their dad, Dave (Bagdasarian), a little crazy! Their escapades usually involve their chipmunk friends Brittany (Karman again), Jeannette (Karman), and Eleanor (Vanessa Chambers) as well.
Is it any good?
CGI gives these classic characters a welcome makeover that bridges the gap between their original animated selves and the versions in the more recent movies that rekindled their fan appeal. Here they're jeans-wearing, high school-attending American teens dealing with teachers, girls, and all the little inconveniences that arise along the way. Their experiences are laughable at times, but in some cases they impart memorable lessons about positive character, even as they come to better appreciate the gifts others have to share.
Of course, no self-respecting Chipmunks production would get far without capitalizing on the characters' distinctive high-pitched voices, and each episode incorporates an original song as well as some more recognizable ones. It's not destined to be a standalone classic, but this update is a respectable addition to the Chipmunks conglomerate.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the recent trend of updating classic shows. Do series such as this one introduce a new generation of viewers to proven characters such as the Chipmunks? Which other vintage shows do you like? Do you think an update would improve those characters, or is it iffy to mess with a classic?
Is Alvin ever held accountable for his mischief? How do consequences in shows such as this one compare to what they would be in the real world? Is it always understood that discrepancies such as that are for the sake of entertainment, or could they be misinterpreted as representing the truth?
Kids: Do you like the music on this show? Are you tempted to seek it out and buy it now that you've heard it here? How are your buying habits influenced by what you see on TV?
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