Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Review: Alvin & The Chimpmunks: Chipwrecked
SCENE: The bowels of the Hollywood Sequel Building, Kiddie Division.
Screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have finished their monthly cocaine ration in only nine days, and are now crashing hard. But in checking the calendar to see when the next ration will arrive, Berger notices that the duo's script for the next Alvin is due in...about six hours.
Aibel: It's okay, man, we got this. [Turns on radio to station playing Lady Gaga marathon.] "'Bad Romance' - perfect for the Chipettes! And then we can finish with 'Born this Way' - 'cause they were born as chipmunks, get it? But they overcame that!"
Berger: I dunno, dude. Have you seen the video for 'Bad Romance'? It's a little...much...for kids?
Aibel: Relax, man. Their grandparents won't get the reference. And it's not like the kids aren't all over YouTube already. Plus, doing 'Born this Way' will make this film matter - kids will Google the lyrics, and they'll learn to love their gay classmates. It's never too early!
Berger: So we're greasing the slide from childhood to adolescence?
Aibel: Like coconut oil on a cruise ship deck, buddy. They'll thank us for it later. Hey! That gives me an idea! Let's put the little guys and gals on a cruise ship! Think of the mischief! Alllllllvin! Oh, man, this is gonna write itself.
Berger: I don't think so. Have you ever been on a cruise ship? Have you ever read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again? I think we'd run out of material pretty quick.
Aibel: Fine. We'll open on the cruise ship, and then send 'em overboard...to a deserted island! Throw in some Lost references, and we're golden.
Berger: Dude! I hated Lost! I mean, I watched it and all, but after season two, it just got worse and worse. I don't think I'm alone in this. Parents are not going to want to go back there.
Aibel: Man, what's gotten into you, Captain Buzzkill? Okay, let me Google desert island movies...Cast Away! Awesome! Tom Hanks! Everybody loves Tom Hanks! And there's a basketball he draws a face on and names Wilson! We can do that times ten! Golf balls! Tennis balls!
Berger: Okay, okay. But what's the narrative drive?
Aibel: I don't know...Alvin needs to...learn responsibility? Maybe play with a little role reversal - Simon getting crazy, Alvin having to be the Good Boy?
Berger: I can work with that. What about David Cross?
Aibel: Let's stick him in a bird costume that he has to wear through the whole film because it turns out he's not wearing anything underneath it. And let's have that be the only joke he gets in the whole movie.
Berger: Man, you really hate that guy. Okay. You start on the pop culture references - try to maybe work in the Honey Badger - and I'll come up with some endearing sequences. Open with the Go-Go's "Vacation"...
Reader rating: one star (I confess, the kids loved some of the sweeter bits.)