On this edition of Creations of Chaos, it’s the surprisingly controversial animated film that set my heart aflame with wanderlust. Jump in your hot air balloon, and get your rock-n-roll on with, The Chipmunk Adventure.
It’s said that as the hot air balloons rose into the air, angry parents grabbed their children by the hand, and pulled them out of the movie theater. The grown-ups were appalled that a children’s movie would be so brazen, encouraging kids to trick adults, so they could run away on a trip around the world. No, the adults thought, we must save these still developing minds from the dangers of wanderlust.
Though movies containing magic were forbidden in my house, running away in a hot air balloon was completely permissible. Thus, I watched the 1987 animated movie The Chipmunk Adventure over, and over, and over again. I could probably still break out some impressive Chipette dance moves with some liquid persuasion.
On my last edition of Creations of Chaos, I discussed how The Care Bears Movie, sparked my interest in true crime. The Chipmunk Adventure sparked something far deeper, something that, as an adult, has captured my very soul, my wanderlust and love for adventure.
While playing an around the world video game, Alvin and Brittany get into a heated argument over who would win a real race around the world.
The bickering attracts the attention of brother and sister diamond smugglers, Claudia and Clause, who were just lamenting over a diamond smuggling dilemma. Suddenly they have a plan.
Since no one would suspect children, they trick The Chipmunks and Chipettes into thinking they are engaging in a friendly battle-of-the-sexes race around the world. The boys team and girls team set out on their grand hot air balloon adventure, unaware that the dolls they must drop off at pre-set, international locations, are actually part of a masterful, criminal scheme.
My heart is grieved that the soundtrack for this movie is no longer in print, or available on iTunes. If it was, I think “Off to See the World” would be my new anthem. For anyone who is a traveler, the chorus expertly captures that profound, magical feeling, that lingers in our hearts.
“The Girls of Rock and Roll” is another fantastic song, and although the boys get in their counter argument, the song still retains a great female empowerment message.
Set in Greece, with its subtle nod to the gods and goddesses of mythology, “The Girls of Rock and Roll” remains one of my favorite, animated, musical numbers. The choreography is impressive. There’s so much energy, it makes me want to cheer at the end with a resounding, “YEAH!”
The animation throughout the movie, but especially in the musical scenes, is excellent. It’s not surprising. After Disney’s The Black Cauldron bombed at the box office, Disney was forced to lay off some of their animators. The Chipmunk Adventure was just getting underway, and the laid off Disney animators were eagerly invited to join the adventure team.
What I Could Do Without
It’s no secret that animated movies often reduce me to tears. There are scenes that cause me to get just a tad dusty, and scenes that reduce me to a blubbering mess. Pretty much every scene in Grave of the Fireflies, when Fievel sings “Somewhere Out There” in An American Tail, and the “My Mother” song in The Chipmunk Adventure, leave me almost inconsolable.
Honestly, all of the scenes that involve the homesick, kidnapped, baby penguin, rip my heart out, tear it into a million pieces, and then grind up those pieces in a blender.
In a movie that’s a thrilling, fun filled adventure, the penguin plot line is a serious bummer. Even though I know it ends happily, the baby penguin flashback of his mother tucking him into bed, while the girls sing their depressing lullaby, prodding baby penguin to miss his mother even more, always summons the waterworks. So, I would love this movie even more, if I didn’t need a box of tissues nearby every time I watched it.
Does It Hold Up?
It’s always a concern when you revisit something that you loved as a child. Sometimes you wonder if it’s better to retain that pure, magical memory, and not ruin it with your now acquired, cynical, adult views.
Though there are some things that I feel are culturally inappropriate by today’s standards, I’m happy to say that for the most part, The Chipmunk Adventure holds up. I enjoyed it just as much as I did when I was a kid. I may have an even greater appreciation for it now, as my travel knowledge has expanded and I know more about the places they visit during their journey.
One of the reasons I liked the movie as a kid, was that it has more of an adult feel. It isn’t overly cutesy or dumbed down. The villains are sophisticated, the danger feels real, and the Chipmunks and Chipettes seem wise for their years. I’d argue that if you tweaked a few things this would make a great, new, The Librarians movie, Flynn and the guys, racing Eve and Cassandra around the world, what a great adventure that would be. Or, with the current trend of turning animated films, like Anastasia, into Broadway musicals, I’d welcome a live stage version of The Chipmunk Adventure.
With the demons, destruction, and darkness in many 1980s animated films, it’s funny to think that The Chipmunk Adventure was one of the more controversial animated movies at the time.
I vividly remember watching it as a kid, the first inklings of wanderlust stirring in my heart. How cool it would be to see ruins in Greece, a windmill in The Netherlands, or a rainbow over a waterfall, but it never occurred to me that I should run away from home to see them. Perhaps, the filmmakers’ true intention was to produce a delayed reaction. Witnessing the Chipettes, soaring over Big Ben as a child, planted a seed that fully bloomed in me as an adult, because now, I plan on running away around the world as much as possible.