When I first joined this site, and was tasked with writing a story about the impending “Marmaduke” motion picture I remember shaking
my head at the depths Hollywood would sink to for an easy hit with the family crowd. Maybe it’s just the stubbornness of my rapidly-escalating age, but I recall a time when kids had more exciting movie-going prospects to choose from than cruddy, badly-written adaptations of exhausted antique properties and an abundance of vanilla celebrity-packed (non-Pixar) animated films.
Continuing this sorry trend is an announcement posted over at Coming Soon today that should shock no one, but shame us all, reporting that 20th Century Fox has announced that Alvin, Theodore and Simon will be returning to theatres yet again in “Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D” (not “Threequel”?), scheduled for release on Dec. 16, 2011. With $791 million earned from the first two cinematic ventures, who can really blame them?
I must admit, this whole rebirth of “Chipmunk”-fuelled hijinx confuses, and slightly upsets, me. Although I have fond memories of watching the cartoon show and reading ‘munk-themed picture books as a small fry, the 2007 film was a painfully synthetic, cynical affair – utterly lacking even a spark of intelligence, wit or liveliness. It was a calculated effort which felt condescending towards children yearning for colourful, bouncy adventures and comparable to a torture-device for their accompanying parents.
Yet it completely worked, spawning a smash-hit sequel, and gaining a massive devoted audience of both families and, strangely enough, teenagers (I know several who enthusiastically bought tickets on opening weekend), all sharing a communal giggle over a trio of animated rodents engaging in comically-shallow escapades and belting high-pitched pop-songs. Who’da thunk it?
What is especially curious about the spectre of this third film, is that it will be opening a mere week before Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn,” which may result in a major battle for 3D projectors in many theatre locations. As much as it pains me to say it, I suspect that “Tintin” may be the one to flinch, as it is a far less renowned property here in North America and sorely lacks the commercial muscle of the almighty Alvin and co.
That’s right, movie-fans, we may finally reach a time when mass audiences would rather pay for the “Chipmunks” than the latest whimsical effort from Steven Spielberg, the greatest conjurer of cinematic family-friendly wonders alive. If that ain’t a sign of the end of days, I don’t know what is …
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.