Alvin and the Chipmunks is a series of live-action films based on the musically gifted trio of chipmunks, the first one written by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi of The Adventures of Pete & Pete and KaBlam! fame.
The first movie, simply titled Alvin and the Chipmunks, was released in 2007, and was a typical origin story. In it, three somewhat humanoid chipmunk brothers — hot-headed Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), brainy Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and portly Theodore (Jesse Mc Cartney) — 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 — à 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?
Fast forward to the very end of 2009, where Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel opened on Christmas Day to robust grosses despite lots of popular competition such as James Cameron's Avatar, Sherlock Holmes (2009) and The Princess and the Frog. After a concert accident results in Dave in traction and sent to the hospital, in the Chipmunks end up in the care of Dave's lazy cousin Toby (Zachary Levi) and they are enrolled in school 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 (Christina Applegate), brainy Jeanette (Anna Faris) and portly Eleanor (Amy Poehler). 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 at the end of 2011 and entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Oh yes, really. The Chipmunks and Chipettes go on a cruise and get shipwrecked. Like the first two, it wasn't well-received by critics, but it was a modest box office success. A fourth movie (subtitled The Road Chip) was released on December 18, 2015, the same date as The Force Awakens, to adequate box office numbers and negative reviews, though it's receiving a splendid (if mostly ironic) cult-following.
NOTE: Tropes under here are specifically for the live action/CGI movies.
- Tropes present in the entire franchise go in Franchise.Alvin and the Chipmunks;
- Tropes exclusive to the '60s cartoon series go in The Alvin Show;
- Tropes exclusive to the '80s cartoon series go in WesternAnimation.Alvin and the Chipmunks;
- Tropes exclusive to the 1987 animated film go in The Chipmunk Adventure;
- Tropes exclusive to the direct to video movies go either in:
- Tropes exclusive to the 2015 cartoon series go in ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks.
The Alvin and the Chipmunks movies provide examples of:
- Accent Adaptation: Exaggerated, as in the Czech dub of the sequels the Chipettes are speaking Slovakian. Apparently, TV Nova felt this move as sexist and therefore, for their airings of the second movie, Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor were redubbed to speak Czech as everyone else in the dub.
- Actor Allusion:
- (First Movie):
- When the Chipmunks deliberately ruin the concert after realizing they've been tricked by Ian, Alvin shouts "Yippee ki yay, mamacita!" in which Justin Long played Matthew 'Matt' Farrell in Live Free or Die Hard.
- Another reference to a movie with Justin Long is made in The Squeakquel when the Chipmunks are playing dodgeball:
- Dave says "If I made a list of my worst days ever, guess what, this one would be at the top of the list!", a reference to his role in My Name Is Earl.
- The Squeakquel:
- Anna Faris plays Jeanette, Simon's female counterpart. Three months ago, in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Faris played another intelligent character wearing glasses, this one named 'Sam Sparks'.
- Jason Lee trips over a skateboard. He's otherwise a famous celebrity for his professional skateboarder skills.
- Chipwrecked: (Well, Composer Allusion) This film is scored by Mark Mothersbaugh, who had previously done the score for Rugrats Go Wild!, another movie about iconic characters being stranded on an island.
- The Road Chip: Laura Marano is a babysitter in Miami. Previously, she had played Ally in Austin & Ally, although the babysitter she plays in a cameo here seems more Trish than Ally.
- (First Movie):
- Advertised Extra: In The Squeakquel, at least, Jeanette gets severely shafted on Character Development, having around ten lines in the entire film (minus the singing of course). She gets more to do in Chipwrecked. This also applies to Dave in The Squeakquel.
- Adult Fear:
- The first one has its fair share of this. Ian was blatantly setting up the Chipmunks to burn out at a young age so that he could squeeze some fast money out of them. It must be horrifying to parents of young stars.
- Chipwrecked gives us the thought of anybody going overboard while on a cruise ship.
- Apologetic Attacker: Jeanette in Chipwrecked when she pulls a rope to trip Theodore so she can snatch the piece of fruit Alvin found.
- Artistic License Physics: Theodore might be a bit overweight, but using him to kick Miles out of the way of a car (in "Road Chip") collides with the law of impulse conservation.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Chipmunks and Chipettes, unlike their earlier incarnations.
- Berserk Button: In The Squeakquel, Simon says they won't solve anything with violence, but then he sees the bullies making fun of Theodore and he goes ballistic.
- Big "NO!":
- Ian does this in a Funny Moment 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!"
- Alvin when he scolds an amnesiac Simon.
- Ian does this in a Funny Moment near the end of the first movie when he discovers the chipmunks escaped from his clutches by replacing themselves with their Spanish-speaking dolls.
- Blown Across the Room: Happens to Dave in the second films opening, when a giant cardboard cutout of Alvin breaks loose and smacks right into him, literally sending him sailing through the air! This unintentionally sets up the plot, as Dave is temporarily heavily crippled and bed ridden for the rest of the movie.
- 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.
Alvin: Totally forgot about this...
- In the Road Chip, the Chimpunks dress squirrels who wreck their house. At the very end of the movie, the Sevilles go home to see the damage they did.
- Bring My Brown Pants: This happened to Simon whilst he and Miles try to get past security in "Road Chip", and he nearly gets found out because of that (by peeing, as he's the one who is not wearing pants).
- BrotherSister Incest: Beatrice Miller is Adapted Out and replaced with Dave as the Chipettes' adopted parent. This makes them the adopted sisters of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. The romance between the characters still exists.
- Buffy Speak: In Chipwrecked, Ian at one point calls Theodore and Eleanor "Chubby one" and "Girl chubby one" respectively.
- Cassandra Truth: In the 2011 movie, Simon really does go looking for Alvin. He just absentmindedly hopped on that lever, thus winning the jackpot. It's just contrived coincident that the usher presented him with a platter full of winning, in front of Dave.
- Casting Gag:
- Cave Behind The Waterfall: The island in Chipwrecked has hidden treasure in a cave behind a waterfall.
- Chekhov's Gun: The necklace and the Swiss Army knife in the third movie.
- Companion Cube: Zoe has an entire collection of sports ball parodying Cast Away.
- Covers Always Lie:
- Never once in the second CGI/live-action movie does Brittany wear a black leather jacket as portrayed in a poster.
- In the 2011 movie, a poster portrays Alvin, Simon and Theodore surfing. Never once do they surf in Chipwrecked.
- Or the fact neither Chipmunk nor Chipette wore clothes as shown◊ in◊ these◊ posters◊ during the movie. Not to mention they got Eleanor's fur color wrong.
- Dedication: Alvin and the Chipmunks, at the end, we got "This film is dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who was crazy enough to invent three singing chipmunks nearly fifty years ago."
- Damsel in Distress: Jeanette becomes this in the third film.
- Demoted to Extra: Dave in the second film, due to a prop mishap during a charity concert crippling him, thus putting him out of commission for most of the movie, prompting him to send the chipmunks with a relative.
- The Chipettes don't get much screentime as the 'Munks in Road Chip.
- Desperate Object Catch: In Chipwrecked, Dave tosses Alvin a pocketknife, allowing him to free Jeanette from the rope Zoe tied to her.
- Disney Death: Simone in the third film after being knocked by a golf ball, but thankfully reverts back to Simon. Theodore in the fourth film after sacrificing himself to save Miles from getting knocked down by the car, thanks to his brothers slingshotting him, but ends up being hit. Luckily, he's still alive.
- Eat the Evidence: 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.
- Every Episode Ending: So far, every film has ended with Dave screaming his trademark "ALVIN!".
- Evil Uncle: Ian plays this role to the Chipmunks in the 2007 movie and then to the Chipettes in its sequel.
- Facepalm: Ian gets this in the first movie when his attempt to give the sleepy Chipmunks coffee to keep them awake backfires on him right in the ass with the Chipmunks flying into a crazy frenzy and wrecking the recording room.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The Chipmunks become friends with Miles at the end of Road Chip.
- In the first movie, Ian has a Simon doll that spoke French, calling himself "Simone". In the third movie, Simon's alter ego calls himself "Simone", speaking in a French accent provided by Alan Tudyk.
- In the 2009 sequel, Simon falling into a bedpan, picking up Toby's half-eaten taco and complaining that he feels like living in a dump foreshadows Ryan tossing him into a trashcan and them being tossed into the dump itself.
- Likewise, Theodore stands next to a brochure for the Los Angeles Zoo. Guess where he runs away to later in the movie?
- Four Lines, All Waiting: The second movie has heaps of subplots.
- Funny Background Event:
- At certain points in the first film, the chipmunks randomly scratch behind their ears during a conversation. This became abandoned in later films.
- Also in one scene as Dave meets the 'Munks for the first time, while Simon is saying "You really oughta pay that utility bill, Dave," Theodore can be seen making a face at his reflection on the mixer cup.
- In Chipwrecked, as Alvin is arguing with Dave about being a grownup, Simon can be seen reading a book while Theodore eats the sweets from a basket in the background.
- Freudian Excuse: Miles is such a jerk because he father bailed on him when he was 5.
- James Suggs hates the chipmunks because his girlfriend broke up with him due to him being an obsessive fan of them.
- Furry Confusion: It seems that chipmunks are the only anthropomorphic animals in these live action series as NO other animals are capable of human speech. It gets rather ridiculous in a few situations throughout the series:
- First movie has a blind man's dog barking at the chipmunks
- Second movie when a cat hisses at the Chipmunks. Later when Theodore runs away to the zoo face to face with an Eagle
- The third movie has Alvin confronting a meerkat (which he refers to a "honey badger"). What it's doing on an island in the South Pacific is a totally different matter.
- It perhaps reaches its peak in the 4th film where Theodore is in the plane's cargo hold with all the other animals.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Ian says this when he "forgets" his keys to "his" penthouse suite that he's bringing the Chipettes to live with him.Ian: Oh darn it! Gosh darn it to heck!
Brittany: What's wrong, Mr. Hawke?
- Groin Attack: In The Squeakquel, Ian gets hit in the crotch with a remote-controlled toy motorcycle.
- In Road Chip Suggs gets Theodore launched right into his groin.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Different from the two animated TV shows. The Chipmunks start wearing sweaters/sweatshirts/hoodies in the midst of the first film onward. The Chipettes don't wear panties in the second film onward.
- HeelFace 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.
- Zoe also since she kidnapped Jeanette and tried to force her to dig up the lost treasure on the island, but then has a change of heart after a speech from Ian.
- Helium Speech: Turned on its head in the first movie with Alvin inhaling helium, only to speak in a low-pitched voice.
- Help, I'm Stuck!:
- In the first film, Alvin (and later Theodore) get stuck in a vacuum cleaner, but Simon somehow helps them out (despite calling Dave for help in the first place).
- In The Squeakquel, Theodore gets stuck in a cage at the zoo and Eleanor gets stuck in the mail slot of an apartment complex.
- 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 screen time and focus, it still follows the "unlucky guy in love has cartoon characters as pets" formula.
- Humanlike Hand Anatomy: The Chipmunks and the Chippettes have human-like hands but are otherwise very much like chipmunks.
- Human Mail: Chipmunk variety. 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 particular nasty lampshade, first stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to, then immediately doing so incredibly sarcastically.
- Ian in all three live action/CGI movies, though mostly dropped during the second half of the third movie, however.
- The school bullies in The Squeakquel.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- In the first film, Ian cruelly and bluntly tells Dave that his songs are terrible and that he should give up songwriting. While he was rude beyond reason, Dave's music really is on the level of novelty children's songs that no mainstream musician would ever perform. In fact, the Chipmunks themselves are most famous for their high pitched covers of other songs rather than their own original music.
- In The Squeakquel, when Ian calls the principal out for being biased in favor of the Chipmunks and not allowing a democratic vote.
- In Chipwrecked, when Ian and Dave are marooned on the island and trying to find food and water, Ian points out that Dave's necklace is edible, but Dave refuses to eat it or let Ian eat it, as it was a gift from Theodore. While Ian does lose points by arguing with Dave over the latter calling Theodore his son, in such desperate times, sentimental value really should take a back seat to survival, so Dave isn't completely in the right.
- Live-Action Adaptation
- Logo Joke: The teaser trailer for the second movie features the Chipmunks doing an acapella of the 20th Century Fox fanfare while dancing around the TCF structure.
- Meaningful Name: The bad guy's name is Ian Hawke. Hawks are, of course, natural enemies of chipmunks.
- Naked on Arrival: The Chipmunks in the first movie, and the Chipettes in Squeakquel. Since they're animals, nobody finds it unusual.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- In one of the trailers for the first movie, Alvin eats Theodore's poop when instead it was Simon. In fact, Alvin wasn't even in the scene at the time hence he was taking a shower in the dishwasher. Also, they didn't have their iconic sweaters yet and the voice that comes out of Alvin's mouth isn't Justin Long, it sounds like Ross Bagdasarian Jr. And when Theodore whimpers at the end, it sounds higher like Janice Karman did it instead of Jesse Mc Cartney.
- For the second movie, Simon catches a dodge ball and sends it flying into an opposing player, knocking him out. First off, it was Alvin who caught the ball, though unlike where Simon just caught the ball, Alvin skids a little back and revealing that he caught it. And the guy who was hit was Toby during his flashback.
- Also in the second movie, Simon and Theodore are seen cheering during a football game, which doesn't happen in the movie.
- There was also a scene in the trailer that showed the Chipetttes as cheerleaders.
- Heck, the Chipettes appear more often in the trailers than the actual movie as they take a backseat to the Chipmunks' high school shenanigans.
- Promos for The Squeakquel have a bit of this. In a scene as the 'Munks walk down the hallway and meet the 'Ettes for the first time, they notice them onstage singing; in the actual film, the 'Ettes are in the hallway with them, and the shot of them singing was really their number for the sing-off against the 'Munks.
- One scene frYom the trailer has Alvin say "Hello, ladies!", then we cut to the 'Ettes. In the film, he was talking to some of the girls in class. Also, the scene after said shot where he pretends to toot a horn was actually delivered to Simon.
- One scene featured the 'Munks spinning in the blender; a promo shows Dave being agitated by this and stumbles, already in casts, when really, Dave wasn't around during that scene in the film. He was actually annoyed that Alvin won't go to bed, which doesn't happen until the very end of the movie.
- Another scene had Simon & Theodore cheering Alvin at the football game, when they're supposed to be at the competition with the Chipettes.
- In the fourth film, there's no scene where the Chipmunks drive a yellow cab.
- A rather infamous sing-along trailer for The Road Chip edits scenes to make it look like that Theodore farts constantly when he only does so once. To an arguably higher extent, there's also a scene edited to make it seem that Simon farts once, but he never does so. (He does have a Bring My Brown Pants moment in an airport, though.)
- No Animals Were Harmed: At the end of the first movie's credits.
- Not So Different: When Simon loses his personality, Alvin has to become the authority figure in Chipwrecked. When he tries to stop Simon from dancing with Jeanette, this happens:
- Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The Squeakquel.
- Oh, Crap!: In Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, a hospitalized Dave calls home, unaware that his irresponsible cousin Toby is watching the boys. On the other hand, Toby picks up the phone, thinking it's Julie.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: After abusing the Chipmunks and locking them in a cage in the first film and doing the same to the Chipettes in the second film, Dave, The Chipmunks and the Chipettes a remind Ian of his crime when he starts blaming others for his misfortunes. Even when fully redeemed, the Chipmunks and Chipettes still take a little time to forgive him.Ian: : 'Sup? [reaches out his hand to for a dap from Alvin; Alvin doesn't dap him] What? No love for Uncle Ian?
Brittany and Eleanor: YOU PUT US IN CAGES!
Ian: What?! Seriously? Are we still talking about that?! New subject: I saved Dave's life!
Theodore: Alright. But I'll be watching you!
- Overly Long Gag: In The Squeakquel, Courtesy of Theodore:Theodore: Hi, I'm Theodore! Hi, I'm Theodore! Hi, I'm Theodore!
- The One Who Wears Shoes: Eleanor in The Squeakquel, because Ian insists she has to be taller when onstage.
- Platonic Declaration of Love: Simon and Theodore are hugging Dave and saying they missed him, and the two tease Alvin about being too cool to do likewise. Alvin hems and haws, and ultimately bursts out with a short speech that ends with an "I love you." Given that Dave is essentially the Chipmunks' father figure, it's clear it's platonic.
- Put on a Bus: Despite being Dave's love interest, and a key character in the first film, Claire is nowhere to be found in either The Squeakquel or Chipwrecked. This is mainly because Cameron Richardson refused to reprise the role, as she strongly disliked being in the first film.
- Projectile Toast: In the first movie, burnt waffles pop out of the toaster, prompting Simon to try and catch them. However, being vision-impaired without glasses, he misjudges the distance and they land right in front of him.
- Pun-Based Title:
- For the second movie, The Squeakquel.
- And in the third movie, Chipwrecked.
- The fourth movie too, Road Chip
- Road Trip Plot: Road Chip, of course. The premise of the film being the the Chipmunks three are rushing to Miami to stop Dave from proposing to his new girlfriend and dumping them, based on a misunderstanding.
- Robinsonade: The main plot of the third movie is the main characters being stranded on an island.
- Rushed Inverted Reading: All three chipmunks did something wrong in their cover-up of their inappropriate behavior. Simon was holding a book upside-down and Dave corrects him.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: When Simon gets bit by a spider in Chipwrecked:Zoe: That was just a spider and they live here, because this is nature.
Simon: This is not just a spider! That's a "phoneutria bahiensis"! Its bite contains a neurotoxin!
Alvin: Ooh, Mr. Fancy Words. So what?
Simon: Alvin, toxin: poison, neuro: brain?!
Alvin: Oh, that's not good.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The fourth film. As it turns out Dave was never going to propose to Samantha, making the "road chip" to Miami unnecessary. The ring they snatched was actually for his friend Barry who was trying to propose to his girlfriend.
- Shout-Out: See the main shout out page for the franchise.
- Spontaneous Choreography: Used in the finale of The Squeakquel. Despite having never practiced, the six chipmunks pull off a rather impressive dance number.
- The Stinger:
- In the first movie, Ian trying, and failing, to get completely un-humanoid squirrels 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 every time 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.
- The third has Dave and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes about to board the plane back home when Alvin tricks the passengers that the plane's headed to Timbuktu. Then Alvin accidentally causes the tray table to plow right into Dave, culminating in the ever-predictable..."AAALLLLVVIIINN!!!!"
- The fourth one has Agent Suggs has escaped the elevator the Chipmunks trapped him in and decides to relax by the pool. He's told to leave since it's for hotel guests only, but Suggs refuses and says the only way he's leaving is if they carry him out. Two security guards are called in and do just that.
- 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: In the first movie, Dave writes a letter explaining why he wants them to leave, which he immediately throws out because he realizes he cares too much for them. Of course, a few weeks later, Theodore has another nightmare and goes into his room and finds the crumpled paper next to the trash bin and shows it to his brothers. The Chipmunks assume Dave really does hate them and go live with Ian. It's a foregone conclusion they eventually reconcile.
- Trailers Always Spoil: All trailers and promos spoil the final climatic moments of each film, especially the second and third, which feature scenes of the 'Munks and 'Ettes performing at Music Mania and the International Music Rewards, respectively.
- Tropical Island Adventure: The premise of the third movie.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the first film, where nobody at Jett Records seems at all aware of the talking chipmunks scurrying about in the lobby of the building. Even more egregiously, Ian reacts with near-total disinterest when Dave brings the chipmunks to sing their song to him in person, who are all overcome with stagefright. True, they did not speak or sing as Dave insisted, but the fact that the chipmunks are clearly reacting with very humanlike fear and the fact that one is wearing glasses doesn't even make him just a little curious about them.
- Villain Ball: Ian's plan in the second film was working fine 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.
- Villainous Rescue: Zoe saves Dave from a Literal Cliffhanger.
- You Must Be This Tall to Ride: In Chipwrecked when Alvin gets on a waterslide by jumping above the "You Must Be This Tall" sign's height.
- 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 dodge ball) Right in the pancreas.