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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED Director Mike Mitchell Interview

Last week I had the incredible pleasure of flying to L.A. to attend the press junket for the upcoming December 16th release of Alvin And The Chipmunks : Chipwrecked.  The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I got an email from Rachael asking if I wanted to go.  I seriously thought it was a mistake until my husband said, “It says…Dear Jen.”  Oh, good point.  It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and I’m so glad I didn’t.  Two nights in the Four Seasons, meeting some incredible bloggers, and interviewing Mike Mitchell, Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman, and Jason Lee.  Um, yes.

I can’t wait to share my review with you but first an interview from Chipwrecked director Mike Mitchell to whet your appetite for Alvin’s newest adventure:

If I was an actor, I think I would love working with Mike Mitchell.  He had a fun, joyful personality and was all smiles while being interviewed by lots of mommy bloggers.  When asked if we could take a group photo, he kind of chuckled and said, “Sure.  I don’t know what you’re going to do with that one.  Merry Christmas.  Send that out to your friends and family.  Who’s the bald guy with the funny glasses?”

The highlights of the interview for me were talking about the voices and music parts.

I have a question about the voices.  You have these big names voicing these characters and you can’t tell who they are at all.  But, I was curious about, for you as a director and then just filmmakers in general, what’s the value to you of having these big names where your audience can’t even tell who it is?  I mean, do they add something in the full piece?

Absolutely.  I’ll just say the girls.  They’re so funny and they bring so much to the character.  And since they’ve done this as a sequel they really know their characters [the Chipettes].  And so, Amy Poehler comes up with a lot of funny stuff on her own, and Anna Faris and Christina Applegate.  And even though you can’t tell that it’s them, they really bring something to that character, and you can tell the characters apart from each other.  And that’s the skill of an actor, because these could sound all the same.  But, I think you can tell snotty Brittany from Jeanette, right?

And so, not only do they bring who the character is to it, but those three girls are so funny and they come up with stuff.  And they say, “What if she says this?”
Or, “What if she does that?”  And the animators love that, too, when it sounds like something that’s organic like, “Oh, that wasn’t scripted.”  And just within their laughs, too, each of those girls brought a different laugh to every one of those characters.  So, it makes my job easy with really professional, funny actresses.

In the process, when do they do the voice recording?  Do you have to go after you shoot the whole thing, do you go in and direct them after the fact? Later?

When we record the voices it’s still done the same way that Mr. Bagdasarian [Producer Ross Bagdasarian], when he came up with the Christmas song for the chipmunks, we have to go back to tape.  And it’s this big machine, as big as this thing is [the table], and it weighs 2,000 tons.  And it’s reel to reel, and it’s almost the same machine that he used back in the day because you can’t do it with a computer or digital, because it sounds computer-y.  There’s something grating about it.  So, it was really interesting.

We go back and do it. It’s almost like a history lesson.  We do it exactly how he did it.  And this is another thing that’s a joy to work with the actors on, they have to kind of act a little slower.  Like they just woke up from bed, and then you speed it up and you can understand what they’re saying.  Because if they just used their normal voice, it’s too fast.  You can’t understand it.  So, it’s really interesting that these people, just like the guy did when the original Chipmunks was created.

Mike commented on his love of making movies that are fun for both kids and adults…

I really try to make movies that are for adults and kids.  And you can do it.  Because it shouldn’t be torturous to take your kid to a movie.  We should all enjoy it.  And my favorite thing is when we have a friends and family screening, like when a little girl is laughing at a joke and she looks up at her daddy and he’s laughing, too.

I’m like, “Yes.”  It’s great to have laughs for both of them.  But, when they laugh together that is magic to me.

Mike Mitchell has worked with DreamWorks Animation since 1996.  He’s worked on such movies as Shrek Forever After, Kung Fu Panda, Sky High, and more.

A short synopsis:

The vacationing Chipmunks and Chipettes are turning a luxury cruise liner into their personal playground, until they become ‘chipwrecked’ on a remote island.  As the ‘Munks and Chipettes scheme to find their way home, they accidentally discover their new turf is not as deserted as it seems. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is in theaters nationwide December 16th.

Genre: Animated comedy-adventure
Release:  December 16, 2011
Director: Mike Mitchell
Written by: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger, based on the characters created by Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman
Producers: Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian
Cast: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate, and Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate

Alvin And The Chipmunks : Chipwrecked is out in theaters December 16th!  Check out the trailer…

Alvin & The Chipmunks : Chipwrecked on the web

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Alvin & The Chipmunks : Chipwrecked on YouTube

Buy Alvin & The Chipmunks : Chipwrecked soundtrack on Amazon

 

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