Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel -- Film Review

The tune selection might be different, but otherwise it's the same old song where "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" is concerned.

Having successfully made the full-length CGI transition with their 2007 smash hit (grossing more than $350 million worldwide), Alvin and the boys apparently had nothing left to prove, judging how very little about this contractual obligation of a sequel feels fresh or inventive.

That obviously shouldn't deter families looking for a little harmless holiday distraction, but it would have been nice if more of an effort had been made for their hard-earned money.

Would, say, even 3D have been too much to ask?

Instead, the concept of new and different takes the form of the Chipettes. The chipper but ambitious Destiny's Child-like girl group -- they made their debut back in 1983 for the "Alvin and The Chipmunks" animated series -- provides potential competition, not to mention love interests, for the 'Munks.

Anna Faris, Christina Applegate and Amy Poehler do the vocal honors, while Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney are again on hand to voice Alvin, Simon and Theodore, respectively.

Also back is Jason Lee, as the hapless Dave Seville -- at least, sort of; scheduling conflicts confined him to a handful of scenes, most of them with him laid up in a hospital bed in a body cast.

David Cross returns as the conniving, ex-record exec Ian, and Zachary Levi (TV's "Chuck") steps in as Seville's slacker cousin Toby, but they're essentially slumming it in their respective roles. Then again, director Betty Thomas and writers Jon Vitti, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger haven't exactly provided them with much in the way of inspiration.

That leaves those chipmunks to do the heavy lifting, and they handily squeak by with their appearances seamlessly integrated into those live-action sequences thanks to that ever-improving CG technology.

And if you've ever wondered how Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" or Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" sounds delivered at a sped-up, high-pitched squeal, this likely is your only chance to find out.

Opens: Wednesday, Dec. 23 (Fox)
Production: Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises
Rated PG, 88 minutes
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