Call this one the surprise of 2011 but I found Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked surprisingly charming.

The third film of the series finds Dave Seville (Jason Lee) & his brood of rodents sailing off for a family getaway and Alvin, Simon & Theodore are joined by female singing and dancing counterparts in the Chippettes.  When Alvin decides to kick things up a notch during a tranquil game of shuffle board, things go from bad to worse.  The chipmunks find themselves at the mercy of the wind when the kite Alvin is flying takes off over board.

The other chipmunks, in an effort to save their comrade, jump aboard the kite in hopes that their weight will keep it from flying out into the wild blue yonder.  This sadly doesn’t work and the six of them are whisked off the side of the boat and out to sea. Dave, seeing this, reacts quickly and heads to the hang-glider (you know the hang glider every cruise ship has at the ready incase your rodent children ever fly overboard) in hopes of flying to their safety.  Neither of these things work and The Chipmunks find themselves…wait for it… CHIPWRECKED on a deserted island.

Unbeknownst to them the island isn’t all that deserted. As the chipmunks attempt to stay alive they meet a young lady, who I can only assume is the retarded love child of Tom Hank’s character from Cast Away and Wilson the volleyball.  She’s been on the island for a long time and it shows.  The chipmunks not only have to work together to survive but get back to Dave and try to not end up on “crazy island lady’s” dinner plate.

As a fan of the cartoon from the mid 80’s, I was actually surprised to see how they have essentially stayed very true to the characters I remember from my childhood. Alvin is rambunctious, Simon is level-headed and Theodore is fat and says cute things. The Chippettes are along for the ride as a counter-point to the Chipmunks and provide very little in the way of substance, but I guess the female demo wasn’t showing up for the other flicks. Plus, now they can harmonize even better when they decide to break out into song.

In this film, however, the tables are turned. Upon reaching the island it’s clear that they aren’t in the recording studio anymore, which sadly doesn’t stop them from singing.  However, when Simon is bitten by a spider and is turned into an adventurous lothario, Alvin is left to keep the groups head above water.  The film deals with the theme of trust and how it’s a two way street.  In the past, all Alvin has ever wanted is for Dave to trust him but, because Alvin is Alvin, Dave is inclined to shorten his leash. On the other side, the film deals with how we all see ourselves.  We are all capable of doing things we probably don’t see ourselves being able to do.  Simon takes the adventures he’s been presented with and runs with it in a way he might not back at home.

Of course most of the young kids who go to see the film won’t pick up on those nuances but I think it was interested that I was able to actually see those things from a bunch of CGI chipmunks.  The kids will, however, love all the singing and dancing and general absurdity of a bunch of walking talking chipmunks. There are enough Charlie Sheen and Lady GaGa references to keep this series relevant, which is actually one of the things that annoyed me about the film, but ultimately, I get it.  The film basically plays out like an hour long music video.  However, there does seem to be a market out there for music in chipmunk form.

In fact, my niece was begging to hear chipmunk music on the ride home from the film.  She is, without a doubt, the target audience for these films, especially with the Chippettes on board.  Her mother, my twin sister, grew up watching the animated cartoon and has passed on her love for the little bastards, which has translated into fervent fandom for this 4-year old.  So, because I am not the target audience, even though I enjoyed the flick, I thought I’d let her tell you what she thought about the movie.  I coaxed her into letting me film her as she answered my questions about the movie; all it took from uncle Ez was a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Without further ado, I give you my niece’s review on “Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”

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