Sunday, December 27, 2009

Unmet Expectations: Alvin and the Morgans

When I saw the preview for Did you hear about the Morgans?, I had high hopes.  Not only did I laugh hysterically at Sarah Jessica Parker running after her horse screaming "I'm not on my horse!", I thought this was another perfect packaging for Hugh Grant - to do what Hugh Grant does best - bumbling romantic comedy.  And while, yes he did fill the role of bumbling male lead, something was so off in this film.  Sarah Jessica Parker often confounds me.  She is forever Carrie Bradshaw, and often through this movie, I found myself noting that she was trying to speak and act differently than Carrie - on purpose.  Carrie must be so much her - that she has to make effort to act like someone else.  Needless to say, she seems strained and awkward.  There are far too many uncomfortable scenes - that perhaps were meant to be uncomfortable, to express the strained relationship between the Meryl and Paul Morgan characters.  Yes, Parker's name in the film is Meryl!  Ick.  Meryl Streep aside (somehow this name works for her and her extraordinary talent) - the name Meryl is a horrible name for women (my apologies to all the female Meryls out there) - it served to be actually a distracting point in the plot.  That coupled with a distracting hair color and styling on Parker - and I could not sink into the movie at all.  I was forever outside of it - merely sitting in a theater, watching 2 Hollywood movie stars make a go of a lame script - floundering incessantly.  With  turns from great supporting castmates, Mary Steenburgen, Sam Elliot (Oh, how I love him!) Elisabeth Moss and Wilford Brimley - it just didn't work.  Even that hilarious scene from the trailer that I loved,  fell flat.  My hope was for some enjoyable light movie fare, but instead got a heavy amount of movie ick. 

I volunteered to take my niece to a "kids show" while the other adults in my family went to see The Blind Side  - a movie I had already seen, and thoroughly enjoyed (review another day).    So, I ventured out to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel - 4 year old in tow - with virtually no expections.  I wasn't exactly dreading the movie - but I wasn't thinking I would enjoy it either.  First, I should admit - I love Jason Lee.  From Mallrats and Chasing Amy to Almost Famous to the baddie in The Incredibles to Earl - I just love him.  It takes a lot for me to Not enjoy him - even in the worst of films (A Guy Thing - anyone?)  So, at least I would have that.  I was a little disappointed when I realized at the beginning of the film - that he as the Chipmunk "dad" would be "laid up" for most of the film and not in much of it.  Imagine my joyous surprise to discover, none other than Zachery Levi (NBCs Chuck) filling in.  (I love him - more than Jason Lee - even).  And the surprises continued - as I ended up really liking this flick.  The introduction of the Chipettes is fun, the Chipmunk-ified versions of Hot n Cold, Put Your Records on and I Gotta Feelin - are hip, current and fun.  Overall, the music is great.  David Cross - funny and perfect as the bad guy - made it all palatable.   My only distraction throughout was my agonizing attempt to identify who was voicing Simon, the pronounciations and inflections of the voice were so familiar!  It wasn't until I searched the credits at the end, that I was appeased.  Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid of  CBS's Criminal Minds) was the culprit, and is perfect as brainiac Simon.  None of the other big name voices were identifiable in their Chipmunk versions.  I love Justin Long and Anna Faris and Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Jesse McCartney - but I didn't know it was them behind the high pitched squeaks. Wendie Malik is hilarious as the Chipmunk obsessed principal - and I'm always happy to see Kathryn Joosten  pop up anywhere(she will always be Mrs. Landingham to me). In the end, for me and for the 4 year old next to me - it all really worked.  It was a fun movie experience - the kind of light movie fare I was hoping for on a busy Christmas Eve. 

So if you have a choice between Alvin and the Morgans, surprisingly - I say go with Alvin.