When a reader asked me to do a post about Alvin and the Chipmunks, I thought she was joking. I hadn’t seen the movie, but it didn’t seem like one that I’d have any interest in. Then I got another request for it (and another, and another). Finally, I broke down and rented it to see what they were talking about. I’m glad I did!
Songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee) lives in a cottage that is so charming that it’s hard to believe a (straight) bachelor lives in it. But who cares? It provides some much-appreciated eye candy for the moms who are watching the movie with their kids.
One of the first shots of the film has the camera panning over Dave’s neighborhood:
This is a real apartment complex in Hollywood known as St. Andrews Bungalow Court. They were built in 1919. What’s really amazing is how the bungalows looked before they were rehabbed:
According to Hollywood Community Housing:
St. Andrews Bungalow Court is an historic renovation of a rare Hollywood bungalow courtyard that had fallen into severe disrepair, become a magnet for illegal activity and was slated for demolition.
This project now provides 16 homes to formerly homeless individuals and households living with disabilities. St. Andrews Bungalow Court is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has received numerous renovation awards, including a 1996 Preservation Design Award from the California Preservation Foundation.
Here’s a glimpse inside one of the real bungalows after the renovation work was finished:
“The entire interior and walkway in front of the house was built on a soundstage at Sunset-Gower Studios in Hollywood,” writes Brian, who worked as the assistant to the animation director. “The director, Tim Hill, did a great job of mixing the exteriors shot at the apartment complex with the footage shot on stage.”
Actors Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney were the voices of Alvin, Simon and Theordore. Didn’t sound anything like them, did it? Brian explains:
“The voices of the Chipmunks are recorded by speaking very slowly into a tape recorder, then speeding up the tape. The trick is to be able to have emotion in your voice while you’re talking so slowly.”
In this corner of the kitchen, next to the trashcan that the chipmunks were hiding in, you get a glimpse of the built-in booth and painted floors:
In this shot, shown from the chipmunks’ point of view, you can see the vaulted ceilings:
Those pesky chipmunks make a mess of the kitchen:
Looking from the kitchen into the dining room (love the retro fridge):
Looking from the kitchen into the living room:
When Simon, Alvin, and Theodore make their own breakfast, they set off the smoke alarm:
They wreak havoc in the living room, too:
“The Chipmunk Song” (sometimes called “Christmas Don’t Be Late”) was written by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (a.k.a. David Seville) in 1958. It was also performed by Bagdasarian. It hit #1 on the Billboard Pop Hit Singles chart and sold more than 4.5 million copies.
See the piano in the lower right-hand corner? That’s the actual one that Bagdasarian used years ago to write the Chipmunk Song on:
According to Wikipedia:
With the release and popularity of the film Alvin and the Chipmunks in December 2007, “The Chipmunk Song” re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #70. At the same time, a remixed version of the song that appears on the Chipmunks’ 2007 album (and soundtrack to the film) Alvin and the Chipmunks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, peaked at #66 and was credited as “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (2007 Version)”.
See the address over Dave’s front door? It’s 1958–the year “The Chipmunk Song” was written.