I will admit approaching "Alvin and the Chipmunks" with more than a bit of apprehension. They've been around for what feels like forever, and a bad adaptation could ruin all that. Worse, it would blend into the sea of other bad adaptation of past cartoons. No worries here, I'm relieved to share.
Brother chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore find themselves in a skyscraper when the pine tree they were in was cut down and brought to the big city as a Christmas tree. They opted to flee when the see Dave leaving the offices of music producer Ian, who just explained to Dave that as friends, he has a duty to say his songs are junk. At home, Dave discovers the thee chipmunks, throws them out, then learns they can sing and welcomes them back on the provision they sing his songs. Dave also goes for a second chance with neighbor Claire, but the 'munks ruin that and make Dave seem crazy.
When Dave goes to show off his new song and his singing chipmunks to Ian, they get a brief case of stage-fright and can't sing, and Ian all but throws him out (though politely, given they're friends and all, y'know?). Dave goes to work, discovers his charts are all colored on in Crayon from the chipmunks, and Dave concedes he's now without a job; his boss confirms that fear. The chipmunks apologize for both shortfalls, and set out to make things right for Dave.
It's a far cry from having watched them on TV as a kid, or (gasp) listening to their vinyl record my parents *still* have at their house. (Side note: the trio sound even faster- and high-pitched signing when you play the 33 1/3 record at 45 RPM.) Jason Lee as Dave was cast perfectly; he's got the silly side, still evokes thoughts of Brodie (played in "Mall Rats," "Chasing Amy," and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"). Even more impressive an acting job when you figure he had to spend a fair amount of his filming time talking to the thin air which would become the animated chipmunks in post-production.
The story itself wasn't earth-shattered, nor did it need to be. (A blending of the plot catalog and many of the mishaps you'd have seen in the cartoons of old, but it all came together and worked.) There were plenty of fast-paced singing routines, with and sans dancing, which kept an up-tempo pace to the film as a whole.
The kids in my nearly sold-out showing at 4pm seemed to have a blast, as did most of the grown-ups. (Okay, there was that one guy, but honestly, he was texting the whole time, so I doubt he even knew what film he was pretending to watch.) It's out in time for Christmas, shocking in that convenience, but if you've got a handful of kids bouncing off the walls and striving to be nice before the big guy flops down their chimney in 10 days, give 'em an early present and take them to see the three chipmunks. They've been delighting folks for five decades since they were created, and that's going to keep on chugging, bolstered by the film as a whole.