Making the Grades
The Rolling Stones are almost on par with Alvin and the Chipmunks when it comes to longevity records. The English rock band was formed in 1962. The animated singing rodents were created in 1958 and seemed to have aged much more slowly than the hard rockers. In fact, Alvin and his siblings haven’t even graduated from high school yet.
Like most teenagers, they find the upper grades to be a bit challenging—especially since they are only eight inches tall and forced to navigate the crowded halls between classes. On their first day in their new school, Alvin (voice by Justin Long), Simon (voice by Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (voice by Jesse McCartney) are party to plenty of adolescent antics involving swirlies, wedgies and other forms of rough play. Gym class feels like a battlefield during a hard-hitting game of dodge ball. And before the final bell rings, the trio finds themselves in the Principal’s (Wendie Malick) office for scraping with the school’s quarterback (Kevin G. Schmidt).
At home things are not much better. Dave (Jason Lee) is recuperating in a London hospital after being hit over the head with a giant concert prop and the threesome have been left in the care of Toby (Zachary Levi), a relative who spends his entire day hunched over a game remote. Needless to say, he doesn’t provide quite the type of adult supervision Dave was hoping for. In addition to that, Ian (David Cross), the chipmunks’ former agent, has stumbled across another musical act, The Chipettes—Eleanor (voice by Amy Poehler), Jeanette (voice by Anna Faris) and Brittany (voice by Christina Applegate). Think of them as a rodent version of the Dreamgirls. Hoping to relaunch his career and leave behind his dumpster dinners, Ian plans to pit these singing sensations against Alvin and his brothers at an upcoming school competition.
While the chipmunks are up to their usual boyish escapades, the new girls in town are a more mature lot, at least when it comes to their sexy dance moves. Along with the depictions of bullying, injury-causing accidents and the misuse and abuse of household items, this script also contains some brief but inappropriate humor for children. This includes a reference to pole dancing and a flatulence joke. Young viewers may be distressed as well by Theodore’s fear of large birds and his worry over the state of the siblings’ relationship.
However, most of the content plays a secondary role to positive, if not somewhat predictable, messages about family and teamwork. Alvin’s preoccupation with his personal fame as a rock star and later as a football player temporarily has a disastrous impact on the group’s musical performances. But fortunately it doesn’t take much more than a snappy tune and some cheering crowds to get him back in sync with the rest of the group.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
Does the recurring depiction of high school clichés reinforce the idea that students can only identify with one type of group? What other stereotypical depictions of teenagers do viewers see in this film?
How does fame impact Alvin? What are the challenges of belonging to a group? Why do many musical bands break up over time?
How have moviemakers updated the chipmunks to make them appeal to today’s children?