Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Movie Review: A Chipmunk Christmas

If television shows were fossils, then A Chipmunk Christmas would be a transitional fossil between the way the Chipmunks were drawn in the 1960s [1] and the way they were drawn in the 1990s.[2] In the 1960s they looked more like the animals that inspired their characters. But as they came into the 1990s, that animal appearance was on its way out. This movie, from 1981, still retains a lot of their animal characteristics (as well as briefly introducing freckles to their sciurine faces).

My verdict: This movie is a nice twist on the usual scenario where Alvin causes trouble. This time he does something good but is misunderstood by Dave. Dave is not wrong to act the way he does, since he doesn't know the whole story. So this isn't simply a case of the tired cliché, so prevalent in modern media for children: super-intelligent kids surrounded by adults who are idiots. The way Alvin runs (his feet turn into a propeller and he zips around in the air) is kind of funny but I'm nonplussed why the animators thought of that. Most of the human characters have droopy eyelids, like they're half asleep or stoned. The scene where Alvin dreams about Clyde Crashcup [3] is one of the strangest animated sequences I've ever seen—it probably beats out anything I've seen in Miyazaki's films.


[1] For examples, see here and here.

[2] For examples, see here and here.

[3] As it turns out, Clyde Crashcup was a stock character in the original series, The Alvin Show. He was always inventing things that had already been invented—and poorly at that. So it's actually fitting that he does such a nutty job at inventing the Christmas spirit, etc. After this Christmas special, he made one final appearance, in an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, called "Back to Our Future", where he invents a functional time machine and swaps the Chipmunks with the 1960s versions of themselves, which is actually kind of clever.

Image attributions:

Chipmunks on a Log is by socceronly, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chipmunks.jpg. 

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