Australian Council on Children and the Media

Alvin and the Chipmunks

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Short takes

PG under 8 years due to sexual references

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • a review of Alvin and the Chipmunks completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 January 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual references
Children over the age of 8 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: none
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Alvin and the Chipmunks, directed by Tim Hill, is the story of three cheeky chipmunks (voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCarthy) who find their way to the city and into the home and heart of David Seville (Jason Lee) a struggling song writer.  Once over the shock of finding out that the three chipmunks can not only talk but also sing, Dave makes a deal that they can stay with him if they agree to sing the songs that he has written.  Alvin and Co. become an overnight success and attract the attentions of the wicked record-company manager ‘Uncle Ian’ (David Cross).  ‘Uncle’ Ian manages to woo the three chipmunks away from Dave and into a world of fame, where Ian promises to make the chipmunks millionaire ‘rock stars’.  Troubles arise however when the chipmunks begin to fatigue under the strenuous touring regime and yearn for the home comforts that Dave provided. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Chipmunks (represented as children) having their needs ignored by the adults caring for them

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is little physical violence in the movie but children may be concerned when ‘Uncle’ Ian, the chipmunks manager becomes bullying towards the chipmunks, ignoring their pleas for a rest when they become fatigued on their music tour.

There is also some mild slapstick comedy and accidental harm, including a scene when Alvin, Simon and Theodore almost get run over by a trolley whilst negotiating a busy foyer.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group may be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Kitchen Aid
  • Campbell’s
  • Cusinart
  • Vitech
  • Crayola
  • Puma
  • Porsche
  • DW/ Roland Music Equipment
  • Entertainment Tonight- Fox

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including suggestive song lyrics, not necessarily sung by the Chipmunks, for example:

  • Alvin singing the song, “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me” in the shower
  • Suggestive words in a soundtrack song during a romantic scene between Dave and Claire

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The chipmunks’ background dancers use provocative movements and wear midriff-revealing outfits.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Use of alcohol by adults during a number of occasions; including dinner and a function
  • Alvin is seen to spill a glass of champagne
  • The three chipmunks are given a coffee drink and as a response become hyperactive and over stimulated

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and a number of putdowns in this movie, including:

  • oh my god
  • song sucks
  • loser

In a nutshell

Alvin and the Chipmunks follows a trend of movie remakes from retro hits.  The latest computer generated version of Alvin and his brothers may attract many parents and grandparents on the nostalgia value of the songs, cartoons and movies that they will remember from their own childhoods. For children unfamiliar with Alvin and the Chipmunks, this movie will introduce them to the hyper-energy and high-pitched singing for which the chipmunks were so well-known.

The main messages from this movie are that material wealth doesn’t bring happiness and that family, commitment and caring for those you love are important.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to the real-life consequences of fame.

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