This review is part of the Daddy Dreadful review series.
Daddy Dreadful Review – Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein (1999)
As a very young kid I cherished two albums in my slim vinyl collection above all others: The Best of The Monkees and 1982’s Chipmunk Rock, which just so happened to have the first mention of the Chipettes. Beginning in the mid-1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks became a regular part of my Saturday-morning cartoon line-up. Naturally, as I got older I stopped following the squeaky-voiced trio but managed to somehow see the 2007 live-action movie on television and wasn’t at all impressed. I was unaware until recently of the two horror-comedy direct-to-video movies that were put out by Universal in 1999 and 2000, and which effectively showcased the last appearances of the 1980s version of the Chipmunks that I grew up with – characters with a surprising amount of depth which was unfortunately lost in their later re-imagining.
Universal’s first release was Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein (1999) which sees the trio performing at an amusement park which is an obvious stand-in for Universal Studios. The park unwittingly hires the real Dr. Frankenstein and his creation at first runs amok but eventually befriends the Chipmunks. The angry mad scientist tries to get revenge on the boys and antics ensue.
My son cracked up at the slap-stick humor but from an adult perspective the overall film is disjointed – it feels like three different movies were crammed into one, especially when Alvin is transformed into a Looney Tunes-style cartoon and Frankenstein’s creature is all but forgotten for a large portion of the film. The story has a tendency to lose focus and go on long tangents and some of the humor feels like Hollywood in-jokes that don’t translate terribly well to a general audience. It has its moments and the songs are decent, but parents will likely find their attention tried even as their kids are having a blast watching the movie. In my opinion, the following year’s Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman (2000) is the superior film.
Recommended Age: 3+
Final Thoughts: Innocent fun and catchy Chipmunk music. Recommended for the kids.