Submitted by: slave2moonlight

Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman: A review by slave2moonlight


Well, it’s that time of year again, Werewolf Cafe readers! As Halloween fast approaches, I’ve decided a special treat is in order for this month’s werewolf movie review. Something as sweet as it is scary. Well, it’s probably a lot sweeter than it is scary, but don’t worry, it’s very appropriate for The Werewolf Cafe. The film I happen to be reviewing is the direct-to-video masterpiece “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman,” and don’t blow it off just because it’s a direct to video Chipmunk flick! This is a great little animated movie! So, let’s get started!

We catch up with our favorite 80’s pop star, Alvin Seville, still as young as ever and in the middle of a run for his life. His pursuer? None other than the legendary Universal Studios horror icon, the Wolfman! Though, he actually looks nothing like the Universal Studios Wolfman; they did a much better job when he guest starred on “Freakazoid.” Still, he looks pretty cool and plenty ferocious. We eventually come to find that this black and white chase was all a dream, and Alvin is, in fact, suffering from such nightmares on a repeat basis thanks to his obsession with watching horror movies late at night. While Simon gloats about out-guessing Theodore on which monster would terrorize Alvin’s dreams tonight, Dave bursts in covered with ceiling plaster and gives Alvin a good “I told you so.” The next morning, Alvin is clearly suffering from lack of sleep, and we discover that Theodore is suffering from the wrath of a school bully, but the three boys must head off to school anyway.

On their way to Clyde C. Crashcup Elementary School (an in-joke for fans of the original Chipmunk T.V. show), Alvin and his brothers must pass their new neighbor’s house, and Alvin makes it clear his feelings about the suspicious Mr. Talbot, whose howling dog he blames for causing his latest Wolfman nightmare. Flash forward to after school, when Alvin is in the middle of a dress rehearsal for his starring role in the school play “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” When Alvin breaks character after sucking back a nauseous concoction from a test tube, drama teacher Mr. Rochelle goes into a tizzy and adds to his lecture the need for more aggressive thunder effects from little Theodore, who is suppressed by the threat of physical violence from bully Nathan if he irritates him with more loud noises. Happily, this is where those lovable Chipettes enter the picture. Eleanor does her best to encourage Theodore to stand up for himself, to no avail, while too-cute diva Brittany complains to Jeanette upon realizing her role in the play will not be a weeping girl named Willa, but a weeping willow. Everything comes to a standstill when Alvin pulls out his “Madame Raya Mad Scientist Kit” and explodes the school auditorium! Dave witnesses the mushroom cloud from his own kitchen and immediately gives the telephone a fearful glance. Sure enough, it rings, and he’s back in Principal Milliken’s office discussing Alvin’s antics. Surprisingly enough, it’s not Alvin that Principal Milliken is concerned about. With the knowledge that she will be taking early retirement soon and that the school has a special insurance policy against damage caused by Alvin, she explains that her worries are about Theodore and his troubles with the school bully. The two visit the auditorium, where all the kids are busy cleaning up the slime produced by Alvin’s unplanned experiment. When Dave sees Nathan’s bullying in action, he attempts to step in, but Principal Milliken insists that Theodore must learn to fight his own battles. Luckily for Theodore, Alvin steps in and drops a stage weight on the bully’s foot, sending him packing.

Nightfall, and the Chipmunks and Chipettes are making the unusually spooky walk together to their respective houses. The topic of the evening is Nathan and his nasty bullying of poor Theodore, when Alvin is suddenly spooked by a strange sound and the kids scatter! Both groups high-tail it to their own homes, locking the doors behind them. Dave is stunned when his boys burst in and lock-up in a panic, and everyone is even more disturbed when a knock on the door soon follows. Wake up, Werewolf Cafe readers! It’s time to meet the Wolfman! A stranger at the door introduces himself as their new neighbor, Mr. Lawrence Talbot. He’s tall, fierce, and carries a cane with a silver wolf’s head handle. Now, just as the werewolf in this film looks nothing like the old Universal Studios Wolfman, despite this being a Universal Studios film, this Lawrence Talbot looks nothing like Lon Chaney, Jr.. In fact, this Lawrence looks a bit more like Barnabas Collins in a bad wig. This is explained away later in the film, however, when Mr. Talbot mentions that his cane is a family heirloom once owned by an ancestor with a shady past (the original Lawrence Talbot?). Anyway, the purpose of Mr. Talbot’s visit is not introductions, but rather to complain about Alvin and the boys trampling over his irreplaceable wolfsbane plant in their mad rush to get home. He counteracts complaints about his noisy dog with the revelation that he has no dog, and insists that the Sevilles keep their distance in the future. Then, after sniffing the air and informing Dave that his lasagna is burning, he takes his leave. Naturally, Dave is not pleased with Alvin’s continuing monster issues and decides to give him a good talking to.

Alvin is saved by the bell when Mrs. Miller, caretaker of the now terrified Chipettes, gives David an angry call. Meanwhile, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore make a break for the T.V. set, and Alvin plants it on his favorite late-night monster movie show, hosted by the mysterious Madame Raya. The trio tune-in just in time for Madame Raya’s commercial break (during a little film called “The Wolfman and the Mummy Go To College,” sorry, no footage), when she takes the opportunity to push her new book, Madame Raya’s Monster Book of Monster Facts. For only 13.99, you not only get this life-saving book, but a bonus amulet as well. Alvin is drooling over the tome, while Theodore contemplates how much Eleanor would like the crystal amulet. Simon is just disgusted. Alvin insists to his skeptical brother that there IS a werewolf on the loose, and that he is convinced that it is their new neighbor, Lawrence Talbot. Simon argues the point with the help of his list of names of people Alvin has already accused of being some type of monster; a list that includes seemingly everyone in town, aside from Dave. Speaking of Dave, he returns from his verbal thrashing with a conviction to free Alvin of his monster obsession. Dave makes the boy go cold turkey, visiting his bedroom and coming away with a box full of everything even remotely associated with monsters. Dave even insists that Alvin give up his role as the star of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in the school play. Alvin is devastated, and so is Mr. Rochelle. The drama teacher is even more distraught when Principal Milliken insists that Theodore be Alvin’s replacement. This also angers Nathan, who had his sights set on taking over the role. Shy and frightened Theodore is none too pleased either, and takes only a small amount of comfort in the knowledge that Simon will be handling the heavier burden, taking over the Dr. Jekyll half of the Jekyll/Hyde dual role. Meanwhile, Alvin sits in his room in a state of withdrawal, suffering from chills and sweats over his separation from the monster world. His dark cloud quickly reveals a silver lining, however, when the mail truck pulls up outside. As Theodore waves goodbye to Eleanor, who was visiting to help him with his lines, the mailman gives him a package addressed to Alvin. The devious Alvin immediately takes action, making sure that the package goes directly from Theodore to him, by having his little brother hook it onto a fishing line he has lowered out his bedroom window. Alvin has told Theodore the package contains a book entitled How to Survive in a Monster Free World. This, of course, is baloney. The book is, in fact, Madame Raya’s Monster Book of Monster Facts, and once it is in Alvin’s hands, he is able to breathe easy again. That is, until Simon comes upstairs to add insult to injury and frisks his brother Alvin from head to toe, revealing a tidy pile of rubber snakes and chattering fangs. He didn’t get the book though, which Alvin had safely nestled away behind a pillow. Now, uninterested in the free amulet, which Madame Raya admitted to being useless, Alvin had chucked it out the window before Simon came in, striking little Theodore in the head with it. When Theodore discovered what it was that hit him, he was overjoyed at the opportunity to thank Eleanor for all her support with a gift. That night, armed with his massive, new monster book, Alvin confronts his brother Simon with his plan to prove that Lawrence Talbot is a werewolf. Exhausted with arguing the subject, Simon agrees to help with the understanding that Alvin will truly give up monsters if he is proven wrong. With that, we get the first musical number in this Chipmunk feature, “Munks On a Mission,” playing over a montage of Alvin and Simon thoroughly investigating Mr. Talbot as the days pass, with the monster book as their guide, while Theodore struggles with his new role as Mr. Hyde. It’s the first of three original songs that play throughout the film, all of which are quite catchy and enjoyable! At the end of the tune, we learn that Alvin has made no progress in proving his theory about Mr. Talbot as he reads aloud from his book the old “Even a man who is pure of heart...” bit we love so much around these parts. Soon, Alvin and Simon are arguing over the subject again, and Alvin points out the tell-tale symbol of a wolf’s paw mark that appears on all true werewolves’ palms. As this goes on, Theodore practices his lines in the yard. The little fellow is having an awful time learning to play evil, until Dave shows up and instructs him to think how bully Nathan would say the lines. After a great new read and a sudden burst of confidence, Theodore thanks Dave and decides to finally give Eleanor his gift of the amulet. His timing is not the best, sadly, as it is getting late. Eleanor is thrilled by the gift, but Theodore’s good feeling ends abruptly when he is attacked on the way home by some sort of vicious dog. He comes home in tears, and Dave tends to the bite on his hand with some comforting words. But, as Theodore lies in bed later that night, an odd looking symbol appears on his bandaged hand; the mark of the werewolf!

The next morning, Theodore is a changed Chipmunk. The previously committed vegetarian is suddenly craving a more substantial breakfast; something along the lines of steak, or... steak. When Alvin offers to race him to school, Theodore leaves his brothers in the dust, and at rehearsals later on, he even scares the faculty with his Mr. Hyde performance. Even Nathan is impressed by Theodore’s new aggression. Alvin and Simon are the ones who get to find out why Theodore has changed so profoundly though, when he makes a complete change later that night. As the two older boys argue over the existence of werewolves again in their bedroom, sleeping Theodore transforms into a beast before their very eyes! At first, his brothers are terrified, but they quickly realize that Theodore isn’t exactly a werewolf, he’s a werewolf puppy; a non-housebroken werewolf puppy. And, as they argue whose side of the room Theodore’s mess is on, the energetic and destructive pup makes a break out the window! Alvin and Simon chase him down and quickly realize they have a job ahead of them keeping a werewolf brother a secret and under control. The second song starts up on that note, “The Monster Out In You,” as we go through the following days of Theodore getting wolfier, not to mention cockier and more aggressive, while Simon and Alvin grow tired of dealing with him and his unpleasant new attitude. They’re not the only ones who are getting tired of Theodore, either. Unlike the other girls in school, Eleanor wants nothing to do with him now, and, as the Chipettes walk home with Alvin and Simon after their last dress rehearsal, Brittany, the only one not the least bit intimidated by the chipmunk-wolf, expresses her confusion over the new Theodore. It seems like only Mr. Rochelle is pleased with the sudden turn of events. Troubled by matters out of their control, Simon and Alvin make a decision that night to visit Madame Raya at the local T.V. studio and ask her for some sage advice.

To Alvin’s surprise, Madame Raya does not dress like a gypsy in her off hours. Luckily, she’s still full of terrific monster knowledge for the desperate Alvin and Simon. Madame Raya explains that Theodore transforms every night instead of just during the full moon due to the fact that he is a chipmunk and therefore already closer to the primitive animal state. Unfortunately, her only advice to cure a werewolf is to club it to death with something silver. This sends the boys away pretty upset, but, after collecting her 13.99 for the Monster Book of Monster Facts, she throws in that maybe if they club him while he’s still a puppy, that they won’t have to club him quite so hard. However, she adds that it must be done before the next full moon, for then he will become a full-fledged werewolf and quite dangerous! To Alvin’s dismay, he discovers the next morning that the next full moon will take place that very night. As he plots to snag Mr. Talbot’s silver handled cane long enough to bop Theodore on the head, Simon studies a blood sample of Theodore’s and its unusual reaction when mixed with the blood of Mr. Talbot, which he had collected off a thorny bush some time before. As Dave works in the garden and Theodore digs holes in the yard, Alvin sneaks up behind his little brother with the silver handled cane he just swiped off Mr. Talbot’s porch while the neighbor wasn’t looking. Alvin makes several attempts to conk the unsuspecting Theodore, but never can bring himself to do it. Funnily enough, it happens anyway, quite by accident. This only angers Theodore, however, who grabs the cane away from Alvin and breaks it up! Suddenly, he is faced with having to explain the broken cane to Dave, who is not at all pleased. Dave wants Alvin to apologize to Mr. Talbot and offer to pay for the cane, but when he sees that Alvin is terrified of the man, he decides to do it himself.

Evening comes, and Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are off to the play, while David pays Mr. Talbot an uncomfortable visit. He confesses to Mr. Talbot that Alvin broke the cane accidentally while, according to Alvin, fighting off a giant gopher. Mr. Talbot seems only half interested though. After griping about how the cane was a family heirloom, his attention sways to the full moon outside, and, to Dave’s shock and horror, Mr. Talbot transforms into a werewolf!

At school, the whole neighborhood is turning out for the opening night of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” There’s danger in the air, however, as the moon is up early tonight. Not yet transformed, Theodore is already running rampant causing trouble, and, once the play is underway and he actually transforms, it’s all up with the house! The audience is at first blown away by the magnificent make-up effects on Mr. Hyde, not to mention the horrifying performance, but things soon get out of hand. Leading-lady Eleanor quickly becomes frustrated with Theodore’s unwillingness to give his lines, and she storms out of the theater leaving Simon, Jeanette, and extras Alvin and Brittany to improvise. Meanwhile, back at Talbot’s house, in a scene that would make a heck of an animated series, we see Dave Seville defending himself against a monstrous, snarling werewolf with the business half of a broken, silver handled cane! When Dave gets his chance, he runs for the door and makes it nearly all the way to the school in an effort to warn the kids, until he suddenly realizes he is leading the wolfman right to them! Seconds after this brilliant realization, he runs smack-dab into a pole and knocks himself out. This probably would be Dave’s final hour, had the werewolf looming over him not seen the lone Eleanor in the schoolyard nearby. His attention quickly drawn away from Dave, the werewolf lumbers in Eleanor’s direction, but the little chipette decides “the show must go on” and makes it inside in the nick of time. The wolfman follows her though, and things finally come to a head! Inside the theater, as the now completely nonsensical improv play rolls on, Eleanor, now informed that Theodore is in fact a real werewolf, is suddenly the object of his attack. Backed into a corner, Eleanor is saved when Theodore recognizes the amulet around her neck and suddenly feels a conflict within himself. The pint-sized werewolf manages to shrink away from his victim, and things seem to be looking up, but then the wolfed-out Mr. Talbot arrives on the stage. Everyone is horrified, though for a moment Alvin is filled with satisfaction at having been right about him all along. Wolfman Talbot sets his sights on Eleanor again, but werewolf Theodore comes to her defense! The two wild creatures lock eyes in an epic struggle, circling and snarling, all to the amazement of the elementary school’s theater going audience. In an opportunistic move, Theodore puts the bite on the beast that made him, and, before everyone’s eyes, both creatures instantly transform back into their old selves! Naturally, since modern audiences place more importance on great special effects than on plot, the play receives a thunderous ovation! Meanwhile, Simon explains to a disbelieving Alvin and the Chippettes, and Theodore, who has no memory of being a werewolf, the science of werewolf bites canceling each other out. It’s the kind of werewolf movie resolution that is just corny enough to work, in an animated comedy at least.

Mr. Rochelle is a hit at the wrap party, but Principal Milliken is more interested in giving her goodbye speech to the students. Just as the Chipmunks and Chipettes are breathing a sigh of relief, she introduces the new principal of the school, Mr. Lawrence Talbot! At that moment, Dave finally makes the scene! He carries in his hand the silver handled half of Talbot’s cane, ready to bash him over the head with it! The boys stop him just in time and explain the situation to him. Principal Talbot gives Theodore a quiet thank you for curing him of his family affliction, and all is right with the world. To end things on an extra special note, and to REALLY get the after-party started, the Chipmunks and Chipettes break into a final song exemplifying the feeling that “Everything’s Going to be Alright.”

And that’s the story, folks! Released on vhs in 2000 from Universal, and now available on DVD as well in a DVD “Monster Pack” that also includes several other monster ‘toons (perfect for the Halloween season), “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman” is excellent werewolf fun for the whole family, especially those of us who grew up with Chipmunk adventures every Saturday morning in the 80s! Despite being direct-to-video, the animation quality of this film is excellent throughout, above that of the animated series, even if not quite at the level of their theatrical feature. In fact, aside from the theatrical “Chipmunk Adventure” feature film, this is Alvin and the gang’s best work yet! There was no slacking off in the writing department (well, unless you’re nitpicky on the cure issue), with a thorough and involved plotline and plenty of Chipmunk-style humor throughout that should work for any age group. Plus, it’s got the Chipettes! Who doesn’t love them? The regulars’ voices haven’t changed a bit, nor have their personalities, new characters are voiced by some of the best actors in the business, all three new songs are original and wonderful, and the whole experience is just fun, fun, fun! If you haven’t seen this one yet, I definitely recommend you go out and pick it up today!