The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)
This was a pure nostalgia trip for me. As a kid, I was a HUGE Alvin & The Chipmunks fan. I had nearly every toy available, and I watched the show whenever it was on TV. Naturally, when a movie came out, I made my dad take me. I remember it so clearly. We were in Florida visiting my grandparents, and I somehow convinced him to take me.
That was the first and last time I saw The Chipmunk Adventure. I remember loving it, but I didn’t remember a thing about it, except for the basic plot. Last week, I discovered that it was just released on Bluray. Because that’s what the world was clamoring for, apparently.
I bit. Now, my kids aren’t really all that familiar with the Chipmunks beyond the Christmas song and the odd ornament we have on our tree. They’ve never seen the original show, and they’ve never seen those recent CGI abominations.
But the day the disc arrived in the mail, I made time for us all to sit down and watch it together. Wow. Where do I begin?
Let’s start with the good. This Bluray transfer is gorgeous. The colors are as crisp and clean as if the movie were made this year. It certainly does not look 27 years old. Cripes. This movie came out 27 years ago? The audio was also fantastic. All the better to hear those rockin’ Chipmunks songs throughout.
The bad? Keep reading. Oh, I kid. There’s not much in the way of extras. Just one short (The Brave Chipmunks) from the old 60s incarnation of the show. They call this “Alvin’s Diamond Edition,” but I think that’s a “clever” marketing spin on the plot of the movie. It doesn’t mean this is like a Disney diamond edition.
OK. The plot and story are beyond ludicrous. I felt like I was losing IQ points by trying to figure out why things were happening, so I quickly abandoned that effort. This was 1987, and they were making a feature-length version of a mindless Saturday morning cartoon that catered to a built-in audience: young, dumb kids like me. There was no way I wasn’t seeing this movie back then. So they could’ve put anything on screen, which is apparently what happened.
Klaus and Claudia. You know these are bad guys because they’re smoking, have huge shoulder pads, and have vaguely foreign accents. But mostly because they’re mean to each other for no reason. And they smoke. A lot.
There’s a flimsy set-up about our villains needing to sell their ill-gotten diamonds to buyers around the world, so they trick the Chipmunks and Chippettes to do it for them. By sending them around the world. On a race. In hot-air balloons. Which they don’t know how to fly. By themselves. With millions of dollars in diamonds.
And they don’t see anything wrong with this plan. Worst. Villains. Ever.
Dave travels to Europe for some unexplained reason. The boys, in order to join the hot-air balloon race, trick their babysitter into letting them leave. The girls just join the race…because I guess they’re all emancipated and have no adult supervision in their lives?
Anyway, they all fly to various famous cities and narrowly escape evil henchmen wherever they go. The boys end up captives of some tribe in the jungle. The girls end up in the harem of a Middle Eastern boy king. The girls escape, rescue the boys, and everyone ends up at the airport at the exact same time. There are some diversions along the way, but it doesn’t make much more sense than that.
Check it out! Honey Nut Cheerios makes an appearance in the Sevilles’ kitchen. Early product placement!
This movie is incredibly non-PC. Get over it now. The people in every country they visit are total stereotypes from the 19th century.
Simon tells the girls they shouldn’t take “the easterly route to Bermuda” because a hurricane is coming from that direction. Let’s just forget that to take an “easterly route” to Bermuda from the United States would require completely passing it and then turning around.
The Chippettes figure out how to Scuba dive by simply putting on tanks and falling into the water.
Brittany narrowly misses getting engaged to a sheikh to become “one of his wives.”
Apparently, hot-air balloons can go anywhere, land anywhere, and have an inexhaustible supply of fuel.
Alvin and the boys are taken captive by a group of scantily clad, spear-wielding men in the jungle. Alvin starts speaking to them like he’s in an old Western. “We make you heap big offer.” Then they tame the savage beasts with their wampum: “pretty clothes, nice shoesies, and plenty good music.” Oy. But none of that really matters, since it turns out Simon can speak their language. Don’t ask.
There’s an entire subplot about a kidnapped penguin. The Chippettes return the penguin to his parents in Antarctica, where apparently all penguins live in igloos.
I see a problem here. Our heroes have been exchanging diamonds for money at every stop. But they’re getting paid in $1,000 bills. Oops. (And don’t worry–that’s an Alvin doll up there. No one stabs the real Alvin in the back. Still, though…disturbing image, right?)
On their way back from Antarctica, the Chippettes just happen to fly over the remote corner of the jungle that the Chipmunks are being held captive. That’s what I call luck.
Passports don’t exist in this world since they all just land wherever they want. Oh, but when Dave returns from his trip to Europe, he needs his passport to get through customs. Well, then.
The trademark “Alviiiin!!” yell is the last line of the movie. They really make you wait for the payoff.
Verdict? This was a tough one. The kids seemed to enjoy it. Don’t know if they’ll want to watch it again, though. Despite the fact that I just wrote 1,000 words about the movie, I thought it was awful. But I have such a strong nostalgic connection to it, I refuse to say it was bad. I suppose it comes down to this. I really want Bagdasarian to release season sets of the Chipmunks show from the 80s, and if my purchasing this movie helps that happen, then so be it.