For the past week or so, I’ve been on both coasts, covering press junkets for some holiday films you’re certain to enjoy. Perhaps the greatest films are released during this season, when friends and family members are aspiring to spend quality time together.
On December 16th, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked debuts on the big screen. This adorably heartwarming film follows the Chipmunks and the Chipettes as they vacation on a luxury cruise liner with their father figure Dave, played by Jason Lee. In true Alvin style, the gang end up “chip-wrecked” on a remote island, separated from Dave. It will take some creative scheming to find their way off the island and back home.
The film stars Jason Lee as Dave, and some noteworthy but not readily recognizable voices, including Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, and Christina Applegate. During a roundtable discussion director Mike Mitchell, producers Janice Karman and Ross Bagdasarian, and star Jason Lee spoke with us about their involvement with the film.
Every successful film has a compelling, believable story. For those who are familiar with the Chipmunks, it’s highly plausible that Alvin’s series of actions would get the group shipwrecked. Beyond the story, it was the dance and musical numbers that director Mike Mitchell enjoyed most. Specifically, the introduction of mash-ups, something made hip by the hit television show Glee, is really groundbreaking because it’s not something seen in previous films. Music and dance are integral components of the film, and Mitchell wanted to be sure that music and dance were furthering the story, rather than simply placed without regard to the plot. The film, which is rated G and fun for the entire family, includes several references to popular culture, which director Mitchell states was purposeful. His aim is to make films that can be enjoyed by adults and children, and when a parent and child are laughing together, that is magic.
Alvin and the Chipmunks have been around since the ’50’s, and I distinctly remember watching them with my father as a child. Being that this is the 3rd film, we asked the husband/wife team Janice Karman and Ross Bagdasarian about maintaining the vision Ross’s father created, how that aligned with the characters, and how they have evolved in each film. Their perspective is interesting, given the fact that the Chipmunks are viewed as “real kids with real emotions” as opposed to cartoon characters. “We never wanted Alvin to be the perfect kid,
because then no kids relate to that. Rather, he’s “misdirected” stated Bagdasarian. “It was important that the chipmunks were not mean-spirited…that they were relatable so audiences care about what happens to them” Bagdasarian continued. With each film, the team aims to create something that is musical and entertaining, while depicting a certain type of family life. For Janice, it’s the emotion that must feel real for the film to really work.
As you know, Jason Lee once again plays Dave, the father-figure to Alvin and the Chipmunks. Having played a minor role in the second film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Jason cites this one as “the best.” “I think it’s very focused..it’s sharp…[and] certainly I had the most fun” Lee continues. The relationships between Dave and “the boys” is solid and “I think Mike Mitchell did a great job as a director” states Lee.
When Jason is not acting, he is pursuing his passion for photography, hoping to one day turn the thousands of archived slides and negatives into a book. Before pursuing television and film, Lee was a professional skateboarder and still manages to skate with his son. As you can imagine, the world of skateboarding is vast and remains largely an untouched subject for the film industry. Lee hopes to one day explore this world, documentary-style, through film.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked sails into theaters December 16th. Check out this very special trailer and watch next week for my full review of the film.
No compensation was received for this post. I attended a press junket for the film and meals/accommodations were provided.