"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" offers exactly two big laughs for its kiddo target audience _ one involves passing gas, the other a shot to the crotch.
Since there's a fair amount of time between these two bits of comic invention, young and old alike have ample opportunity to mull over the movie's head-scratching decisions, which, on further review, still leave us with more questions than answers.
1. Why do the Chipmunks need to go to high school?
Early in "Squeakquel," a rodent-related accident lands Dave (Jason Lee) in a full body cast. (Apparently, Lee had a scheduling conflict or a really good note from home, making him unavailable for duty here.)
Dave puts the rodents in the care of his slacker cousin Toby (Zachary Levi) and instructs that Alvin, Simon and Theodore go to school.
Now we already know that the Chipmunks are smarter than Dave. And at the beginning of "Squeakquel," we see again that they are veritable cash machines capable of rocking the house with ear-bleeding covers of songs old and new.
So do chipmunks really need a diploma? And given their size, wouldn't they be safer with the kindergarten crowd?
Say what you will about the 2007 "Chipmunk" movie, but at least it had a story. Here, they've basically dropped the Chipmunks into "High School Musical" and, God help us, we'd take the warbling of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens' any day over the sound of processed rodents.
2. If you double the chipmunks, do you double the ... um ... fun?
"Squeakquel" introduces us to the Chipettes, three girl chipmunks, whose personalities and singing aspirations mirror the boys. Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Anna Faris voice the Chipettes, but you'd never know it because their factory-rendered, high-pitched voices sound fairly identical, completely wasting the talent behind them.
3. Why didn't David Cross have Jason Lee's escape clause (or sense of dignity)?
Cross' desperate villain, Ian, returns in "Squeakquel," pretty much doing the exact same thing again, down to the wire-cage imprisonment finale.
Ian latches onto the Chipettes as his return to the top, boldly proclaiming that they'll make the world forget about the Chipmunks. OK. Maybe if they were singing porcupines, he'd have a point. But take out the earplugs, Ian, and you won't hear any difference in the novelty acts.
4. Has anyone ever talked to Alvin and the boys about the birds and the bees?
Just asking because Alvin, in particular, seems a tad confused. The Chipettes' arrival understandably gets the blood flowing (cue Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is"), but Alvin also seems just a little too interested in hooking up with high school girls. (Even the lunk-headed jocks know something's up and plot revenge.)
And the ending? Without revealing too much, expect to hear the pitter patter of little rodent feet in (gulp) the "Threequel."
5. Speaking of which, is it too late to start collecting our loose change now so we can send it along to Fox and stave off the inevitable?
Name your price, Mr. Murdoch. We'll form the Facebook group.
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG for some mild rude humor. Running time: 89 minutes. One star out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G _ General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG _ Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 _ Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R _ Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 _ No one under 17 admitted.