When disgraced former record executive Ian Hawke (David Cross) first makes an appearance in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, he is found living in the basement of the Jett Records building. Subsisting on scraps of trash, he is wearing only a too-short silk robe and flip-flops, and in one instant, the audience is quickly reminded of the frailty of human nature.

Cross’ performance easily transcends many of the finest performances to grace the silver screen this season. He is at once both a perfect allegory for the economic downturn of the last half of this decade and a stalwart champion for the power of optimism and perseverance in our times.

(Wow… I almost managed to say that with a straight face.)

Look– it’s a movie about CG chipmunks who sing. It’s inane, and it has very little entertainment value for anyone over the age of, say, ten. But if your kids saw (and enjoyed) the first movie, they’ll want to see (and will enjoy) this one.

Jason Lee is back (briefly) as Dave Seville, ‘daddy’ to the ’munks, but kudos to him for having an agent who was able to finagle a deal that kept him off-screen for most of the movie. ‘Plausible deniability’, I believe they call it.

Taking his place is cousin Toby (Zachary Levi of NBC’s Chuck, for everyone over the age of, say, ten), who must sporadically take a break from the Xbox Olympics (he’s a gamer!) to keep Alvin, Simon, and Theodore on the straight and narrow.

I could go into the intricacies of the plot (The Chipmunks go to high school! Ian’s plotting his revenge! Mrs. Landingham falls down the stairs backwards in a wheelchair!)

Or I could mention how the apple cart is upset by the arrival of the Chipettes (Brittany, Eleanor, and Jeanette) or by Alvin’s success going to his head and his (huh?) prowess on the football field.

Seriously, though, none of this matters. The simple truth is that you (assuming you’re a parent) will find yourself in the theater watching this sometime in the next few weeks.

I suggest you get going and get it done sooner rather than later— think of it as ripping off a cinematic Band-Aid.

1.5/5 stars