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THE DIRECTORS

'Alvin and the Chipmunks' sequel was a walk down memory lane for Betty Thomas

She still remembers her first album by the group and how cool it made her feel.

November 01, 2009|Susan King

Nostalgia was a driving force behind Betty Thomas' desire to direct the family film "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," opening Christmas Day. Thomas has fond memories of the Chipmunks album, "Let's All Sing With the Chipmunks."

"I'm pretty sure it was my first album," says the 61-year-old Emmy-winning Thomas, who also directed "The Brady Bunch Movie" and "Private Parts." "I thought it was the coolest thing. It was my entry into the music world. That is one reason I would have wanted to do this movie."

The sequel to the 2007 holiday hit finds the darling fur ball pop sensations Alvin, Simon and Theodore returning to school where they attempt to save the school's music program by winning $25,000 in a battle of the bands. Their competition?

Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette, "The Chipettes."

Thomas discovered while making the movie that everyone's favorite chipmunk is Simon.

"I don't know why they love Simon other than that he embodies sort of the intellectual in all of us," she says.

"Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays him, sort of embodies that too. He's sort of the really handsome nerd."

Indeed each of the actors who voice the trio is quite similar to their tiny characters.

"Justin Long is crazy, pushing the edge of improvising. He's just like Alvin, hard to control sometimes. Jesse McCartney, who plays Theodore, is this little sweet guy who is just lovable."

They all had to be recorded separately, slowing their normal speaking voices -- "a tortuous process," Thomas calls it. "Then we speed it up afterward with an analog machine so nothing has a digitized feeling to it. It feels natural. The final product is way cool but the process is. . . ."

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susan.king@latimes.com

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