Ever since I noticed a curious lack of Zachary Levi in the trailers for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, I’ve wanted to know what he does in the movie. What are they trying to hide? After seeing it last weekend (at a theater without ticket machines, so I had to actually speak the movie’s title to a human) mystery solved. Here, a brief look:
• After Dave (Jason Lee) becomes hospital-bound in France following an accident at a Chipmunks charity concert, the boys are shipped back to the States to stay with Dave’s Aunt Jackie (Kathryn Joosten). Only Jackie’s grandson Toby (Levi) accidentally sends her down an escalator backwards in her wheelchair at the airport and she’s hospitalized, too. So Toby, a slacker/gamer, becomes their guardian. Though Dave can’t know that because he’s not supposed to stress.
• Toby keeps to himself for much of the film, and you kinda wanna slap him because he doesn’t seem to get that he needs to comfort the criminally adorable Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney), who comes to him when Alvin (voiced by Justin Long) and Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler) fight. After an initial run-in with the school jocks — “You threatened to climb inside of him and build a nest,” the school principal/Chipmunks superfan (Wendie Malick) says — Alvin becomes one of them, you see. He doesn’t make time to rehearse for the talent competition their school needs to win so it can save its music program with the $25,000 prize. The first time Theo goes to Toby, Toby assures him that nothing will tear his family apart, except for maybe an eagle. Bad move because the school mascot is an eagle. The second time, Toby reluctantly agrees to let Theo sleep with him, then promptly farts under the covers, which sends Theo scrambling to get out of the “Dutch Oven.” Ultimately, Theo runs away to the zoo because he’s obsessed with Meerkat Manor and hopes the meerkats there will take him in. Only the meerkat exhibit has been moved and replaced with birds of prey. Alvin and Simon save Theodore while Toby watches. At least he drove them there?
• Earlier in the film, we learned that Toby was bullied in high school, too. Cue montage of a brace-faced Levi getting his head dunked in a toilet and slammed in a brutal game of dodgeball. Notice that the girl who smiles at him is now one of the Chipmunks’ teachers. Toby had no advice for Simon and Theo when Alvin missed their sing-off with the Chipettes to decide which group would represent their school in the contest. But he finally stepped up and stalled when neither the Chipettes (voiced by Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler, and Anna Faris) nor the Chipmunks were backstage when the school’s name was called the night of the competition. (The Chipettes’ manager, played by David Cross, caged the girls and was going to force them to open for Britney Spears that night instead, until the boys rescued them.) Toby got onstage and talk-sang a song about being pathologically shy and choosing to start a relationship with the girl he’d always liked by saying “hi.” He got the girl, and the Chipettes and Chipmunks arrived and performed “We are Family” together for the win.
Toby was last seen dancing in the group production number, “Shake Your Groove Thing.”
Now the only question that remains is what they’ll call the inevitable third film…. After consulting with Slezak, may we suggest Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Shrillogy?