Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm Probably Too Old To Be Talking About These Things

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to go see The Muppets with my family. Although a few jokes—such as Kermit picking up the phone and asking to speak to President Carter—indicated that the film was trying to target the older audience members who had grown up with the Muppets (Digression: I know I’m not technically part of the generation that grew up with the Muppets, in that I wasn’t alive for The Muppet Show or the first three movies. However, I did grow up watching Muppet Babies, Muppets Tonight, A Muppet Christmas Carol [which my family still watches every Christmas], Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space Which Wasn't That Great But It Was The Muppets So I Really Wanted To Like It, etc. I will admit that none of these things are as good what those lovable rascals were up to in the 70s, but since they were consistently putting out new material when I was growing up, it does mean I get to feel justified in having missed them.), the previews were skewed much more to the younger demographic. Especially this one:

I don’t have very much to say about the actual content of this trailer, apart from the observations that (1) I will probably not be going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked anytime soon and (2), hey, it’s Phyllis! Granted, there are plenty of cynical observations I could make and questions I could ask, but they all have the same answer: “This film is intended for kids, asshole. Not self-righteous 23-year-olds who would probably really want to see this if they were 15 years younger, especially given that they watched Alvin and the Chipmunks pretty regularly on Cartoon Network for years. What, you thought I didn’t know that? I’m your subconscious, bro! I know all sorts of shit you don’t want getting out.” Or something along those lines, anyway.

There is one question I had, however, that this would not be the answer to, as it concerns something I was genuinely curious about: how long and how many people did it take to come up with the phrase “Chipwrecked?” Was there a board meeting where dozens of studio executives brainstormed words that rhymed with “Chip?” (“What about Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip? They could get into hijinks all across the country!”  “How about Alvin and the Dripmunks? We could have them all get really into impressionism! Ed Harris could cameo!”) Did the writers decide that the chipmunks were going to get marooned on an island before coming up with the title, or can this entire movie premise be traced back to the realization that “ship” rhymes with “chip?” Were any words that rhymed with “munk” considered? Maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Punk where they get really into The Sex Pistols? Or Alvin and the Chipmonks, where they join a monastery and teach the uptight abbot, played by Tommy Lee Jones, how to combine religion with rockin’ out thanks to a last minute cameo from Creed? Also, why didn’t Gonzo have a bigger role in The Muppets, my only complaint about what was otherwise a very enjoyable, heartwarming movie?

Okay, so maybe that did get a little cynical. I apologize. Cynicism is pretty hard to avoid when discussing the Alvin and the Chipmunks films. Still, my interest about the origin of “Chipwrecked” remains. It seems like such a simple decision, but given that it’s Hollywood, I wouldn’t be surprised if people market-tested this and agonized over it for weeks before settling on it. Maybe someday I’ll get to Hollywood myself and figure out the answer. But if I want that to happen, I’ll need to get cracking on my screenplay. Tentative title: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Trip-Funk.

In this movie, Alvin, Simon and Theodore invent a new genre of music called “trip-funk.” It is not pleasant to listen to.

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