LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two years ago, a big screen adaptation of “Alvin and Chipmunks” became a surprise hit at box offices grossing $360 million worldwide. The movie was based on the animated music group created in 1958 about three singing chipmunks and their exasperated manager/father.
This week, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” hits theaters with a new, all-female singing group, The Chipettes, who give Alvin, Simon and Theodore a run for their money.
Comediennes Amy Poehler and Christina Applegate, who play chubby Chipette Eleanor and lead singer Brittany, respectively, sat down with Reuters to talk about their roles, parallels to pop diva Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Bundy’s future.
Q: Were you asked to play the specific Chipettes?
Christina: The studio must have had their own reasons because they came to us with those characters already in mind.
Amy: The reason why I was excited about doing this was because I heard Anna (Faris, who rounds out the trio) and Christina would be doing it and I love their work so much.
Christina: I just watched (Poehler’s 2008 movie) ‘Baby Mama’ the other day again, and it’s so funny.
Amy: Oh thanks. I was so skinny then.
Q: Any similarities between you and your Chipmunk selves?
Amy: I want to be a star! (laughter) Well, Christina is a good leader. She’s a good front person and she’s an excellent singer and dancer in real life.
Christina: Thank you for answering that question.
Amy: You’re welcome. I would say that I am like Eleanor in that I‘m the shortest. And like Eleanor, I do not enjoy wearing high heels. I don’t walk very well in them. But Christina and I look like we could have a bit of Chipmunk in our DNA.
Christina: I have really hairy arms.
Amy: And we both sleep all winter (laughter).
Q: How was it recording the voices? You had to speak really slowly so your speech would sound normal when sped up.
Amy: When I was recording, I would crack myself up, and they ended up using my laugh for Eleanor. I‘m sad to say that when my laugh is sped up, it sounds like an appropriate chipmunk laugh.
Q: In the movie, your evil manager, played by David Cross, tries to make Brittany the big star, pushing her sisters to the side. Very Destiny’s Child, don’t you think? Do you feel the parallels to (lead singer) Beyonce’s life as The Chipettes sing “All the Single Ladies?”
Amy: We always feel the parallels. I mean, in every day life, no matter what I‘m doing, I‘m thinking about how it relates to Beyonce. In the past, I’ve said to directors I’ve worked with: “Now what would Beyonce think?”
Q: And what would Beyoncee think?
Christina: She’d be like, I‘m so rich.
Amy: I‘m hungry. (Laughter)
Q: Did you watch The Chipmunks TV show when you were kids?
Amy: Christina and I were talking earlier about how we listened to the records more than watch the show. There was a punk Chipmunk record we both used to love.
Christina: Yeah, it had songs like “My Sharona.”
Q: Can you recite the theme song to the TV show?
Amy: I don’t remember it. Do you?
Christina: I don’t remember it either, but I grew up in Laurel Canyon (an arts and music community in the Hollywood Hills) and my mom used to let me watch things like Benny Hill when I was a kid.
Amy: (laughs) Benny Hill!
Christina: My mom’s from Indiana...
Amy: The thing about The Chipmunks is that they’ve always been around. You associate really great memories with them. A lot of Christmas memories.
Amy: So it’s nice that this movie is coming out on Christmas Day because that was...
Christina: Actually, it’s coming out on the 23rd.
Amy: Copy that, thank you. Okay, so around Christmas. They certainly were a harbinger for the seasons changing when I was growing up. Their voices -- kids are immediately attracted to that. It’s like a dog whistle. When they hear it, they go crazy.
Q: Speaking of kids, Amy, earlier this year you also voiced a part in ‘Monsters vs. Aliens.’ Has motherhood changed the way you choose roles? (Poehler and husband Will Arnett have a one-year old son, Archie.)
Amy: Yes and no. Animation is very time consuming so you have to choose something you’re okay with making a commitment to. I think I’ve been lucky to work on things that I feel will stand the test of time. Between myself and my husband, who does so much animated stuff, it’s nice to think someday my son will recognize our voices.
Q: Christina, you are forever known as bimbo Kelly Bundy on TV’s ‘Married with Children. If there was a reunion special or a movie feature ever made, what would Kelly be doing today?
Amy: That’s a great question. What would she be doing?
Christina: Hooking. (laughter)
Christina: She’d have, like, six kids and still be living at home. We all used to say that if you ever did a reunion, you’d just find us all on that couch. Most of our scenes took place on that orange and yellow gross couch.
Amy: (laughs) That’s amazing.
Christina: That couch is now in the Smithsonian.
Amy: That is so cool!
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte