Three rodents sing in high pitched voices and live a happy little family life with a human man as their dad.
When I was a little kid, I did indeed own Chipmunk records. That might date me some, but there was no such thing as CDs yet and it sure was easier to listen to the vinyl records than to fast forward and rewind through the cassette tapes. I digress. The two Chipmunk records I recall owning were A Chipmunk Christmas and Chipmunk Rock. I loved these squeaky little rodents and who doesn’t like lyrics like “Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboy chipmunks!”
Recently they were brought back to life in the form of the theatrical feature starring Jason Lee and once again the chipmunks were hip. Therefore, it is understandable that the studios would push everything they can on the little kids who like squeaky, high pitched renderings of popular pop songs. In this review I will trudge through almost eight hours of Chipmunk cartoons for you. God help me.
The first thing I do is break open the Classic Holiday Gift Set. This set includes three DVDs: A Chipmunk Christmas, Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration and Trick or Treason. Each of the DVDs includes three, four and five episodes respectively. We’ll start with the Christmas DVD, which is the one most of you know about.
The first cartoon is A Chipmunk Christmas, the one that started it all. It tells the story of Alvin learning the meaning of Christmas and helping brighten the holidays for everyone around him. It is still as charming and wonderful as I remember it being as a child. The fact it still makes me smile after all these years says something. The second cartoon is called Dave’s Wonderful Life. You guessed it, this is a retelling of the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life where Dave feels he is no longer needed and the boys would be better without him. It is schlocky and doesn’t live up to the original, lacking the innocence. It just seemed a little too slick. The third cartoon is Merry Christmas Mr. Carroll. This is a retelling of A Christmas Carol, where Alvin played the part of Scrooge and was visited by three ghosts (Dave, Simon and Theodore). I felt it was better than Dave’s Wonderful Life, offering more humor but still doesn’t match up to the original A Chipmunk Christmas.
Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration includes four cartoons: A Chipmunk Celebration, Food for Thought, Cookie Chomper III and Dave’s Getting Married. A Chipmunk Celebration is a 1994 special concerning the boys and Dave planning a big dinner for relatives and friends and a big Thanksgiving Day play. Of course despite all the difficulties, the play comes off wonderful. It’s an average episode at best. The other three episodes are shorter episodes from the television show. Food for Thought takes the Chipmunks back through time as they try to help Theodore with homework. Cookie Chomper III is a very touching episode where the boys have a pet kitten that dies. It then touches on how they each deal with the loss of their friend/pet. It is one of the important episodes that can help teach kids about this very important lesson of life. Dave’s Getting Married deals with the boy’s difficulties coming to terms with Dave’s new fiancée Marsha and her boys. Of the four, Cookie Chomper III is the standout episode.
Trick or Treason includes five cartoons: Trick or Treason, Babysitter Fright Night, Theodore’s Life as a Dog, Nightmare on Seville Street and No Chipmunk is an Island. Trick or Treason starts with the Chipmunks singing Monster Mash and turns into a cartoon where Alvin wants to join a group of bullies who live to scare and torment other people. He is asked to torment a deformed boy called Pumpkinhead. Of course Pumpkinhead turns out to be a nice boy, although quite weird, and the lesson is to be nice to everyone no matter how they look. Babysitter Fight Night is a typical paranoia cartoon where the boys believe their German babysitter is a crazed psycho. Theodore’s Life as a Dog is another lesson episode where Simon teaches Alvin not to trick Theodore to eat things he shouldn’t be (in this case a dog bone, leading to a were-dog scare). Nightmare on Seville Street shows the effects of scary movies on the imagination of children. No Chipmunk is an Island has the boys wanting their own rooms. Dave gets them different places to sleep but then they all have nightmares about what living alone would be like.
Next, it was time to break into the Alvinnn!!! Edition, a 2-disc set that promised Alvin’s most hilarious, action-filled comedy adventures. Each disc contains seven episodes from the 1980’s version of the cartoons. These cartoons are meant for kids – little kids. Maybe people who remember the rodents fondly from childhood will find themselves smiling for a little while, but the cartoons are a little repetitious. But this cartoon DVD set is meant for kids and I will review this for kids. If you are an adult with no children, do not waste your time. If you have kids, say under twelve, they should love this.
These episodes go all the way back to the first season of this iteration of the Chipmunks in 1983. The Curse of Lontiki was an entertaining episode, involving a cursed medallion. Other highlights include New, Improved Simon (Season 2), Maids in Japan (Season 2) and Romancing Miss Stone (Season 3). This is kind of a greatest hits of early episodes which is good since the show progressively got worse over time. If you have kids, this is a great set for them with each episode at a short 12 minutes.
By the end of their show’s run, The Chipmunks were parodying movies. Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom parodies – you guessed it, Raiders of the Lost Ark. For kids who are familiar with the movies, as well as adults who find the homages it pays creative, this DVD actually remains pretty interesting. The main feature is joined by Batmunk (Batman) and Robomunk (Robocop). I don’t know of many small children who are familiar with Robocop, but I can see they were trying to give adults something to keep them interested while the kids were still digging on the high pitch voices.
Well. Four hundred minutes of Chipmunk cartoons is a little too much for any sane adult. However, if you have kids I would suggest any of these sets. If you want them ranked I would say grab the Holiday Edition first based on the Christmas DVD, Daytona Jones second and then the Alvinnn!!! Edition last for those with little kids.
There are trailers on Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration for Chipmunks, SpongeBob Squarepants and Go Diego Go DVDs. The Alvinnn!!! Edition contains the exact same trailers. Guess what? They’re back on Daytona Jones as well. That’s it for extra features.