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The first movie, simply titled Alvin And The Chipmunks, was released during the 2007 Christmas season, and was a typical origin story. In it, three somewhat humanoid chipmunk brothers--hot-headed Alvin, brainy Simon, and portly Theodore--end up in LA after their tree of residence is cut down and driven there en route to becoming a Christmas tree. They stow away in the basket of struggling songwriter Dave Saville (My Name Is Earl's Jason Lee), and he promptly kicks them out of the house after finding them...only to let them back in after hearing the three singing outside. Dave strikes a deal with the youngsters: they sing his songs, and he lets them stay in his house.
The Chipmunks become a smash pop group and Dave is not so down on his luck anymore, but their greedy record executive, Ian Hawke (Arrested Development's David Cross), schemes to have the chipmunks all for himself by enticing them with expensive gifts. Can the chipmunks resist Ian's temptations, will Dave be able to rekindle his realtionship with ex-girlfriend Claire, and most importantly, will Dave and the chipmunks learn the importance of family?
Although it was met with less than enthusiastic reviews, the first movie was a surprise hit, taking in an impressive $359 million on a budget of merely $60 million. Even though he wasn't thrilled with the movie, Roger Ebert remarked--a la his review of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie--that it was "about as good as a movie with these characters can probably be" and that it might've done "something satirical about rock stars and the hype machine." Either way, the movie helped reinvigorate interest in the characters. Obviously, the money made with this movie would make a sequel a sure thing, right?
Flash forward to 2009, where Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel opened on Christmas Day to robust grosses despite lots of popular competition (James Cameron's Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, The Princess and the Frog, etc.). In this one, the Chipmunks are enrolled in school by Dave and must try to fit in with their human peers, a struggle made even tougher since they were former celebrities. Meanwhile, Ian, struggling to get back on his feet after the chipmunks ditched him for a normal life on account of him being a scumbag, seems to have finally found replacements for his former employees in the form of the Chipette sisters: brash Brittany, brainy Jeanette, and portly Eleanor. Just like the three male chipmunks, the Chipettes are somewhat humanoid, and as such are capable of human speech and, by extension, singing. Can the Chipettes be just as successful, and will vengeance on the chipmunks finally be Ian's?
As the Squeakquel did well for itself,the third film was released in December 2011 and entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Oh yes, really. The Chipmunks and Chipettes go on a cruise and get Shipwrecked. It wasn't well received.
Tropes Used By This Series:
- Adaptation Dye Job: Most characters had their eye colors changed.
- Advertised Extra: Jeanette gets severely shafted on Character Development, having around ten lines in the entire film (minus the singing of course)
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Chipmunks and Chipettes, unlike their earlier incarnations.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: "Uncle" Ian
- Big No: Ian does this in a Crowning Moment of Funny near the end of the first movie when he discovers the chipmunks escaped from his clutches by replacing themselves with their Spanish-speaking dolls.
"¡Madre de Dios! ¡NOOOOOOOOOO!"
- Brick Joke: When Dave first meets the Chipmunks he says, "Squirrels can't talk!". At end of the movie Ian is trying to start a new band with squirrels...who can't talk.
- Chekhov's Gun: The necklace and the Swiss Army knife in the third movie.
- Chick Magnet: Alvin.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ian.
- Darker and Edgier: The films progressively follow this trope, more specifically in the third and fourth movies.
- Dinky Drivers
- Eat the Evidence / I Ate What?: In a scene in the first movie, Dave sees a little pellet of poop behind Theodore. Simon claims it's just a raisin, but Dave is skeptical. His hand forced, Simon eats the so-called raisin. After a satisfied Dave leaves the room, Simon scowls at Theodore and says, "You owe me big time." Curiously, Alvin was the one in the trailer who ate Theodore's poop.
- Enemy Mine: Dave and Ian when stranded in Chipwrecked.
- Evil Uncle: Ian plays this role to the chipmunks.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: There was a stripper reference in the second movie. (However, since they didn't say "stripper" or "prostitution" outright, most of the kids in the audience won't get it, which is what makes this a Getting Crap Past the Radar...or past the kids, anyway.)
Alvin: It's Aunt Jacky. She's making us a zesty five-course meal.
- Not quite past the kids. In this day and age, it wouldn't be all that uncommon for a nine year old to know that pole-dancing is tied to a....certain profession.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Ian actually says this when he "forgets" his keys to "his" penthouse suite that he's bringing the Chipettes to to live with him
Ian: Oh darn it! Gosh darn it to heck!
- Groin Attack: In The Squeakquel, Ian gets hit in the crotch with a remote-controlled toy motorcycle.
- Heel Face Turn: Ian in the third movie. He's still kind of a dick, but he does help Dave and the Chipmunks get off the island.
- Helium Speech: Turned on its head in the first movie with Alvin inhaling helium, only to speak in a low-pitched voice.
- Hollywood Nerd: This appears to be how Simon is portrayed in this universe. He's intelligent, but doesn't act like a total dork.
- Human-Focused Adaptation: Though the Chipmunks get a fair enough of screentime and focus, it still follows the "unlucky guy in love has cartoon characters as pets" formula.
- Human Mail: In the second movie, the Chipettes mailed themselves to Jett Records in a FedEx package. They weren't aware that Ian Hawke was out of a job now since the events of the first movie.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Ian hangs a particulary nasty Lampshade, first stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to, then immediately doing so incredibly sarcastically.
- Jerkass: Ian in all three movies. The school bullies in The Squeakquel.
- Live Action Adaptation
- Logo Joke: The teaser for the second movie features the Chipmunks doing an acapella of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare while dancing around the TCF structure. Unfortunately, it's trailer-exclusive.
- Meaningful Name: The bad guy's name is Ian Hawke. Hawks are, of course, natural enemies of chipmunks.
- Money, Dear Boy: Probably Jason Lee's main motivation for doing the movies, but David Cross makes it especially clear that he's in the movies for the money.
- The Movie
- Mythology Gag: According to Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., the piano and the recording equipment used when the Chipmunks record their first song is the original equipment used to make the first Chipmunk song.
- The One Who Wears Shoes: Eleanor in The Squeakquel, because Ian insists she has to be taller when onstage.
- Pun Based Subtitle: For the second movie, The Squeakquel.
- Robinsonade: The main plot of the third movie is the main characters being stranded on an island.
- Rock Trio
- Rushed Inverted Reading: All 3 chipmunks did something wrong in their cover-up of their inappropriate behaviour. Simon was holding a book upside-down and Dave corrects him.
- So My Kids Can Watch: Zachary Levi's reason for doing The Squeakquel was so that once he had kids of his own, he could watch this film with them.
- Spontaneous Choreography: Used in the finale of the Squeakquel. Despite having never practiced, the six chipmunks pull off a rather impressive dance number.
- Starring Special Effects
- The Stinger: In the first movie, Ian trying, and failing, to get completely un-humanoid chipmunks to sing. In the second, after the Chipettes realize that Ian is evil and go live with Dave and the Chipmunks, at bedtime, Alvin insists he isn't tired, thus leading him to turn the lights on everytime Dave turns them off, and as for Ian, he still goes to the gig, complete with puppets of two of the Chipettes and his dressed as the third. The gig bombs and Ian is thrown into a dumpster.
- That Poor Cat: We hear a poor cat screech in the first movie when a frustrated Dave throws his music equipment into the yard.
- Third-Act Misunderstanding
- Twice Shy: Simon and Jennet in the third movie.
- Villain Ball: Ian's plan in the second film was working fine until he threatened the Chipettes just because they all wanted equal partnership in the performance.
- Although he doesn't explicitly state his reasons, these actions do make sense in keeping with Ian's character. As a record producer, he probably knows that girl bands are more or less currently out of vogue and the real success is in single-name acts, like Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Elevating the more photogenic Brittany to the front while reducing Jeanette and Eleanor to backup singers probably makes sense business wise. Since he's a Jerkass however, he does this through evil means.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In the sequel, Theodore becomes afraid of eagles.
- You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses: In the sequel, while playing dodgeball:
Simon: Glasses! Glasses! You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would you?! [Gets hit by a dodgeball] Right in the pancreas.