Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

MY TOP MOVIES OF 2012

December 27, 2012

I didn’t see as many movies as I have in previous years, although that mostly means I saw less bad ones. Here’s the cream of the crop…

10.  “ARGO” – I didn’t love this as much as many of my friends, because I felt the “everything that could go wrong, almost did” of the final moments was overly manipulative, but I did enjoy the tense setup and the Seventies feel of the movie, thanks to evocative production design and cinematography (and mustaches… don’t forget mustaches!).

9.  “SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK” – One of the most overlooked movie stories of the year was the lack of successful romantic comedies. This was the best one by far.

8.  “TED” – How could this movie be the biggest surprise of the year when Seth McFarlane has been making us laugh for years?

7.  “ZERO DARK THIRTY” – An exciting, engrossing film that shows the strike on Bin Laden was even more courageous because the government didn’t know for sure he was there.

6.  “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” – While I prefer my Batman movies to have a little more Batman in them, this was still a fitting end to what is sure to stand as my favorite movie trilogy.

5.  “FRANKENWEENIE” – Loved the shout-outs to old monster movies, but mostly I liked it because Sparky the dog was so cute.

4.  “FLIGHT” – Even more than the tense emergency landing scene, the plight of Whip Whitaker trying (or not) to overcome his addictions has stayed with me since I saw the film.

3.  “JACK REACHER” – I’m a big fan of the Lee Child source novels, so it was a huge relief to see Tom Cruise pull off a believable portrayal of my favorite righter of wrongs. But more than that, the film was the kind of action movie laced with humor and mystery that we don’t see enough anymore.

2.  “LINCOLN” – My pick for Best Picture and needless to say Best Actor. Like “Zero Dark Thirty,” you knew how the story ended (in this case, with the passing of the 13th Amendment)  and yet it was still thrilling.

1.  “THE AVENGERS” – The most fun movie of the year. Writer/director Joss Whedon made the challenge of blending the six stars look easy. The final battle set a standard for superhero action that will be hard to top. Your move, DC!

ALIENS IN THE ATTIC

July 20, 2009

Attended my first junket in a while on Friday afternoon for the new kids’ adventure, “Aliens In The Attic.” I quite enjoyed the movie, which was rather clever and funny, and knew the press day would be just as painless to attend with just three sessions in an hour and fifteen minutes.

Interestingly, the stars we interviewed ran the gamut from an actress who first started working in live television during the 1950’s to a young actor whose first credit on IMDB was just six years ago. First up was Doris Roberts, who first gained my attention playing Mildred on the TV show “Remington Steele.” While Ms. Roberts often plays down to earth middle class types, in person she has a bit of the grand dame about her, while still remaining nice. While her longrunning role on “Everybody Loves Raymond” may be over, Doris is certainly keeping busy, with three movies ready for release. And for all her success in comedy, she admitted she never knew she could be funny until she heard the audience’s laughter while doing a Broadway play back in 1969.

Next up was Ashley Tisdale, who is well known for her role as Sharpay in the “High School Musical” movies. While a lot of actors can’t wait to leave playing teenagers behind, 24 year old Ashley is more than happy to do it as long as the parts are interesting. I asked her about creating her characters. She said that her aim is to keep things fresh when filming and so doesn’t memoritze any of her lines until the last minute. Fortunately, she has no problem with the memorization.

Last but not least, we interviewed two of the young male stars of the film, Carter Jenkins and Robert Hoffman. Robert has worked as a dancer and a choreographer in addition to acting. His training in movement serves him well in “Aliens In The Attic,” as he throws his body around quite a bit as the aliens control him. You could see during the interview he’s not much for sitting still, as he started rhythmically moving his neck. While Robert doesn’t feel the need to play gritty parts, his co-star Carter can’t wait to take on meaty roles.

I got to speak to Carter for a bit after the interviews while waiting for the valet to bring my car and told him how I worked on “Alvin & The Chipmunks.” He said “Aliens In the Attic” probably wouldn’t have gotten made without that previous hit.

It’s hard to tell early in an actor’s career if they’re going to be stars or even just continue to work on a regular basis. Based on their level heads and smarts shown during Friday’s interviews, I wish Ashley, Carter and Robert all the best in the future.

BOLDLY GOING

May 7, 2009

Hard as it might be to believe now, the first time I saw an episode of “Star Trek,” I wasn’t impressed. It was an episode of the original series called “Catspaw,” which featured an alien that could turn into a giant black cat. It was the second season’s  Halloween episode and it was so cheesy, I didn’t watch another episode of “Star Trek” for years. But a few years later, I gave it another try thanks to the syndicated reruns and this time I watched an episode every afternoon until I had seen ever one. I soon realized that “Star Trek” was the blueprint for one of my favorite storytelling devices, which I call the three guys. The trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The leader (Kirk) pulled in opposite directions by logic (Spock) and emotion (McCoy). It always works…

I was in college when “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out, and I was in line to see it opening night. And while it might have a bad reputation now, at the time my friends and I all loved it. It was great to see the crew back in action. Of course, we didn’t know what action was until the release of the second “Trek” movie, “The Wrath Of Khan”!

By the release of “Star Trek III,” I was living here in L.A, but as I only started covering movie junkets in 1992, I never got a chance to attend a press event for a film starring the original crew. Somehow I even missed out on “Generations,” my big chance to interview William Shatner, although I haven’t missed the interviews for a “Star Trek” movie since, evidenced by the fact the entire “Next Gen” cast has signed my “Next Generation Companion” book. Oh, I finally did get a chance to see William Shatner, even if it was while he was accepting an award for winning the celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix!

Of course, more “Star Trek” came along on TV over the years and I never missed an episode. Some of my favorites included the final season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which featured the most seamlessly intricate and exciting storytelling this side of “Lost” (it’s no wonder some of the writers went on to work on “24”) and also the final season of “Enterprise,” when the show finally threw open its arms to the “Star Trek” canon and started basing stories on some of the earlier shows’ legendary plots and ideas.

Which brings us to the movie that opens tomorrow night. I really wasn’t worried about what J.J. Abrams would do with “Star Trek,” as I loved his work on “Mission Impossible III” and I’ve always been one to take a look at something before I badmouth it. I don’t mind if things are changed if it makes for a better movie. And if there’s one thing J.J. has done, it’s that he’s made a great movie (but let me take a moment to say that in the rush to canonize the new “Star Trek,” people are talking down the earlier movies, but some of them are very enjoyable, especially “The Wrath Of Khan,” “The Voyage Home,” “The Undiscovered Country” and “First Contact”).

The new film has done everything right, so much so that I got teary eyed at times, thankful that something I loved was done so well. Great cast, non-stop action and most important, characters that actually have personalities. That last one came from Gene Roddenberry and the new “Star Trek” has smartly carried on the tradition. Yes, I kind of wish Chris Pine had done more of a William Shatner impersonation (hey, it worked for the other cast members), but I’ll certainly accept Chris’ claim that only Mr. Shatner is capable of playing Kirk that way.

So like everyone else who’ll see “Star Trek” in the next few days, I can’t wait for the further adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. I hope that next time around, Chris gets to say those immortal words, “Space, the final frontier…” Although I have to admit, I am a little worried that the producers are thinking about bringing Khan back, as Ricardo Montalban played him so perfectly the first time around.

And here I promised I wouldn’t badmouth something before I saw it. Sorry… and live long and prosper!

THE SUMMER MOVIE SEASON BEGINS

April 30, 2009

This past weekend, I got the chance to cover the first press junkets for this summer’s onslaught of blockbuster movies. First up was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” I certainly enjoyed the movie, thanks to lots of exciting action scenes and the as always perfect portrayal of Wolverine by Hugh Jackman. The movie also benefitted from a ferocious portrayal of Sabretooth by Liev Schreiber. I also enjoyed the way the film fitted into the previous “X-Men” movie continuity, as it was really a prequel to the excellent “X2.”

The interviews took place on the Fox lot on Saturday morning. While they had installed some nice backdrops on Stage 20 for the television interviews, the radio press conference took place in a tent outside the soundstage. We got five members of the cast at once, plus director Gavin Hood. As if it wasn’t hot enough in the unfortunately black colored tent,  Hugh Jackman was sitting right under a very hot light but it didn’t seem to bother him.

Most of the questions centered on the training that most of the actors undertook for the movie. Hugh said he never worked harder to get in shape, while Ryan Reynolds talked about training with swords for his portrayal of Deadpool and Taylor Kitsch constantly practiced manipulating a deck of cards to play Gambit.

One thing I found interesting as an X-Men fan is that originally Hugh wanted to make a movie about Wolverine’s adventures in Japan based on the popular 1982 miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller but he was convinced by Fox that after all the talk in the “X-Men” series about Wolverine’s origins that it would be better to finally show them. Jackman said he’d like to explore the Japanese material next if there was another Wolverine movie. Hugh’s not one to count on something that hasn’t yet happened though. Someone asked him if he would host the Oscars again and he replied, “They’d have to ask me first.”

As the cast members filed out, I took the opportunity to ask Hugh to sign my hardback copy of “Marvel: The Characters And Their Universe,” and he readily obliged. He’s definitely one of the more charming actors around and is always a pleasure to talk to.

THE BEST INTERVIEWS OF 2008

December 24, 2008

Here’s a list of the interviews I enjoyed the most during the past year. I only included interviews that were live and in person, which leaves out some memorable phone interviews by the likes of Nelly Furtado and Katy Perry. Oh, and I think it will be more interesting if we countdown to number one. Shall we?

10. Kate Hudson & Matthew McConaughey, “Fool’s Gold”:

For once, I didn’t mind it when two stars were paired up. They had an easy chemistry together that made for a fun interview.

9.  Ashton Kutcher & Rod Corddry, “What Happens In Vegas”:

Ashton was very funny, especially when telling a story about how he was watching an old episode of  “That 70’s Show” at a hotel, making the maid think he was a bit conceited.

8.  Paris Hilton & Christine Lakin, “The Hottie And The Nottie”:

Notable because I sat next to Paris, who I had never seen in person. Turns out co-star Christine did most of the talking. When the interview was over, there was a moment when Paris stood up but didn’t leave the room. I think she was waiting to see if anyone wanted an autograph, which I thought was thoughtful of her.

7.  Matthew Fox, “Speed Racer”:

The “Speed Racer” interviews took place in the Long Beach Convention Center, while time trials for the Long Beach Grand Prix went on outside. So every minute or so, there was a loud vroom noise. But I didn’t mind because not only did I get to ask Matthew a question about his work on “Lost,” he became the second “Lost” star to sign my Season One “Lost” DVD set.

6.  Sarah Michelle Gellar, “The Air That I Breathe”:

Totally charming in person, plus she gave a memorable defense of her decisions to appear in unusual roles in small indie projects.

5.  Sir Ben Kingsley, “The Wackness”:

One of the world’s greatest actors gives a 20 minute class on being a great actor.

4.  Jason Castro, “American Idol”:

I sat in on Fred Bronson’s interviews with all of this year’s “Idol” finalists and I enjoyed listening to Jason the most. Yes, David Cook’s thoughtfulness and smarts explained why he was doing so well choosing songs and David Archuleta’s sweetness and love of music shone through, but Jason’s laidback persona was the most enjoyable of all. Plus it was amazing to hear first hand the story of how little he had performed before he reached the “Idol” stage and even more amazing to hear his hints that he was ready to go home.

3.  David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson, “The X-Files”

Mulder & Scully, together again…. even if they did disagree with the basis of my question about how after all the times Mulder saved Scully on the show, it was nice to see the tables turned in the movie (David insisted Scully was always coming to Mulder’s rescue during the series’ run).

2.  Kristin Bell, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”:

My first chance ever to interview Kristin, who was as lovely and funny as, well, Veronica Mars. Plus she signed my Season One DVD set of “Mars,” making up for the fact I had nothing to get autographed when I found out Kristin was doing a signing at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years back.

1.  Russell Brand, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”:

Like many Americans, I had never heard of British comedian Russell Brand before I saw “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which was one of my favorite movies of the year,  in no small part due to Brand’s hilarious performance. But I assumed that the outrageous rock star persona in the film was an excellent acting job, never thinking for one second that what was on the screen was actually close to the real Russell Brand. But Russell walked in the room in all his leather panted glory and proceeded to give one of the funniest interviews ever. In the radio room, we try not to laugh when the interview subject is talking but this was one day when we had no chance not to!

THE WORST MOVIES OF 2008

December 15, 2008

Every year it seems that while I have a hard time coming up with 10 great movies for my list of the Best Of 2008, I have absolutely no problem filling up the worst list. Here’s this year’s parade of shame:

1.  “OVER HER DEAD BODY” – While Eva Longoria and Lake Bell are very attractive ladies, they are left stranded with a boring script.

2.  “THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE” – There are two Paris Hilton movies on this list, yet Paris is one of the best things in both of them. This might have been a tolerable romantic comedy but for the decision to make “The Nottie” so hideous looking and unlikeable.

3.  “DARK STREETS” – I couldn’t wait for this one to end. Fortunately it was only 90 minutes long. A lead with no charisma and a story that takes place in a rediculous film noir fantasyland adds up to sheer boredom. The musical numbers were okay though…

4.  “WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS” – The typical romantic comedy problem of making perfectly nice people awful to each other for no reason other than that’s what has to happen or there’s no movie rears its ugly head…

5.  “REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA” – Poor casting sunk this one. If a few more of the leads had as much charisma as the narrator, this could have been fun. It was also hurt by the need to include the Genetic Opera in the finale, which made no sense at all…

6.  “SPEED RACER” – A bit of editing would have helped this one. No kids’ movie should be over two hours!

7.  “LEATHERHEADS” – While I’m a big fan of the black and white comedies this movie pays tribute to, they had interesting plots…

8.  “THE MUMMY 3” – Everytime the script said if the Dragon Emperor did something, he would rule the world, he did it… and then it turned out he had to do something else to rule the world, extending the movie on and on. Add to that hiding Jet Li’s expressiveness and charisma under CGI, the loss of Rachel Weitz and the stupid Yeti Ex Machina, you’ve got a big disappointment. I liked the sets though…

9.  “HORTON HEARS A WHO” – While I enjoyed Jim Carrey’s Horton, the Whos not so much…

10. “THE WACKNESS” – While Josh Peck is likable and Olivia Thirlby is the best actress you’ve haven’t heard of yet, the knockabout adventures of a young drug dealer just didn’t connect with me.

NOT-SO-HONORABLE MENTION:  “THE ACCIDENTAL HUSBAND” – Another boring romantic comedy that would have come in third on my list but for the fact it’s release date was changed to 2009 the very day I went to see it.

SPECIAL CATEGORY:  “THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE” – While I don’t think I could ever put an “X-Files” movie on a list of the year’s worst (even this misfire had the pleasure of seeing Mulder And Scully again and included a pretty good chase scene), who oh why did Chris Carter not do a scary monster movie while he had the chance? I’m sure that’s what the fans were expecting. A creepy human villain just didn’t make the grade, even if he was kidnapping people to use them for body transplants…

MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2008

December 14, 2008

As my loyal readers know, my job covering movie junkets  lets me see many movies for free every year. In fact, the only movie I paid to see this year was “Iron Man.” Fortunately, most of the movies I wanted to see (the big summer extravaganzas), I got to cover. Unfortunately, I also had to see a lot of very bad movies for the job, making it a lot easier to come up with a “Worst Of 2008” list. You ‘ll see that list in an upcoming post.  I’m still haven’t seen many of this year’s Oscar hopefuls, so there aren’t many of those in my top ten. Not that I like many of the Oscar hopefuls each year anyway…

Without further ado…

1.  “THE DARK KNIGHT” – I loved how director Chris Nolan set this in the real world, full of breathtaking shots of Gotham City. Exciting action and a lot to think about to boot. Plus if you think a movie is only as good as its villain, this was the best movie ever!

2.  “FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL” – “Tropic Thunder” may be funnier overall, but this gets the nod because of the well done romantic arc  (even I would have picked Mila Kunis over my beloved Kristin Bell in these circumstances) and the use of Hawaiian locations.

3.  “IRON MAN” – I have friends who enjoyed this more than “The Dark Knight” because of the comedic scenes. I think the comedy and Robert Downey’s gleeful performance has obscured the fact that this too was an example that superheroes done seriously are superheroes done right! You will believe a man can fly…

4.  “TROPIC THUNDER” – Loved the Hollywood jokes as well as the well directed action scenes. And yes, it’s just comedy but Ben Stiller got some of the year’s most daring performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise…

5.  “FROST/NIXON” – I was fascinated by the give and take between the characters. A true thriller without a punch thrown or gun shot…

6.  “THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM” – An exciting stew of everything I like about martial arts movies featuring a great fight between the masters Jackie Chan and Jet Li…

7.  “GET SMART” – The surprise of the year. I thought this was going to be terrible, and it turned out that everything taken from the TV series didn’t work. Steve Carrell played a smarter Maxwell Smart, but that didn’t stop him from getting into hilarious trouble. And like “Tropic Thunder,” the actions scenes worked well.

8.  “RAMBO” – And speaking of action scenes, I have to admit I enjoyed seeing Sly mowing down the bad guys in the violent finale. A true trip back in time to the 80’s moviewise…

9.  “QUANTUM OF SOLACE” – A bit of a disappointment when compared to “Casino Royale,” thanks to jittery editing in the early action scenes and a villain who really shouldn’t be able to go toe to toe with Bond in the final fight. But hey, I love action movies and the sheer immense rediculousness of the action and Daniel Craig’s emotionally closed-in portrayal of Bond made it enjoyable…

10.  “HANCOCK” – Yes, this movie was not as good as it could have been. But I still enjoyed the idea of a homeless, lost superhero and the centerpiece fight between Will Smith and Charlize Theron was a knockout…

VROOM!

April 21, 2008

A few years ago, I made my first visit to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when they held the junket for Sylvester Stallone’s racing movie, “Driven,” at the Renaissance Hotel right next to the track. 

Well, this past weekend, Warner Brothers conducted their junket for another car racing movie, “Speed Racer,” at the Long Beach Grand Prix, which meant once again it sounded like the actors we interviewed were surrounded by a horde of angry, buzzing bees, thanks to the very, very loud race cars driving by the Convention Center where we were set up.

Still, the actors were in good spirits. Emile Hirsch, who plays the title character, is on the verge of a huge career breakthrough, but didn’t seem too worried about what’s coming as far as his popularity.

Producer Joel Silver, who produced my two favorite movies, “Die Hard” and “The Matrix,” was after Emile. I asked him if he was keeping one of the Mach 5’s they built for the film for himself. Joel revealed that he wasn’t planning on it, considering that the cars they made for the film lacked a very important component… an engine! So I guess we won’t be seeing anyone driving to the grocery store in a Mach 5 anytime soon.

Joel also defended the length of the movie, which clocks in at over 2 hours. Joel pointed out that when he was a kid, he saw the 8 hour Broadway production of “Nicholas Nickelby” and loved it, so he thought children could easily make it through “Speed Racer.”

Next up were John Goodman and Susan Sarandon, who play Speed’s parents. John seemed very happy when I complimented him on his grunting in the film, which is about all I remember about the character of Pops Racer from the cartoon. John commented that no matter what line he said in the movie, the Wichowski Brothers who directed the film would have him add a grunt or two for emphasis!

Christina Ricci, who plays Speed’s girfriend Trixie, related the problems she had with the chimp that was used in the film. In their very first scene together, the chimp grabbed her breast and refused to let go, creating a very painful memory for Christina!

Of course, I was most excited by the appearance of our final interview subject, Matthew Fox, who just 12 hours before had been on the beach in Oahu filming a scene for “Lost.” The publicists weren’t sure Matthew, who plays Racer X, would be able to make it to Long Beach in time, but I brought my “Lost: Season One” DVD set just in case, and I’m glad I did, because he autographed it for me.

I asked Matthew about his tattoos, which “Lost” devoted a whole episode to explaining. Matthew admitted that his tattoos may not be that esthetically pleasing, but each one has a meaning to him and symbolizes either an important idea or event in his life. He added that he just hopes ten years from now, the ideas they exemplify will still seem as important as they did the day he got them applied!

As Matthew was leaving, I suggested that he check out a character named Jack Reacher, the star of a great series of thriller novels by author Lee Child. I think Matthew would make a great choice to play this character, adding another great Jack portrayal to the one he plays on “Lost”!

After the interviews, I walked around the Grand Prix track, which is actually made up of closed off streets. I was very impressed by the restaurants in that area of Long Beach. By this time, the practice session featuring the open wheel Grand Prix cars had ended, and the contestants in the next day’s celebrity race had taken to the track for a qualifying round. I found a spot beside a curve and was rewarded with the sight of Drew Lachey’s car nudging a pile of tires that were stacked in front of a wall as a safety precaution. I also saw another unidentified celeb trying to drive with the hood of their car standing straight up in the air.

Finally I left as still another class of car took to the streets for a practice session, hearing the vrooms fade into the distance as I headed for the train to go back home. Because who wants to watch a day of racing and then be stuck on the freeway?

 

WHAT DID NPH DO?

April 13, 2008

This week I attended the press day for “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.” Unfortunately, Kal Penn who plays Kumar was off filming “House,” so only John Cho (who plays Harold), Neil Patrick Harris (who plays Neil Patrick Harris), Rob Corddry (who plays the comic nemesis of Harold and Kumar) and the writer/directors were there to represent the movie.

Yes, you read that right. Neil Patrick Harris (known as NPH) plays himself in the movie, albeit a warped wildman version of himself. That made me think of all the dumb questions you could ask Neil about the movie, like “Why do you think you were the best actor for this role?” and “What kind of research did you do to prepare for this part?” But when I asked Neil what was the dumbest question he had gotten about the movie, he said, “Someone asked me this morning if I liked unicorns.” See the movie and that will make sense. You’ll also know why Neil showed us a photo of a porn star named Echo Valley on his Iphone…

John Cho was a bit more serious during our interview, but warmed up when we started talking about his role in the new “Star Trek” film, where he’s playing Sulu. He said George Takei’s work meant a lot to him when he was growing up, so he wanted to do the part justice. John seemed very passionate when talking about the plight of Asian actors in Hollywood.

And speaking of Asian actors in Hollywood, this week also brought us an interview with Jackie Chan, who was promoting his new and very fun film, “The Forbidden Kingdom.” Jackie is paired with Jet Li in the movie, and one of the highlights is a fight between the two of them. It was Jackie’s first screen teaming with Jet, and he described making their fight scene, one of the highlights of the film, as being like play. He said their moves were so fast that the director had to ask them to slow things down.

Jackie believes that video games that put the emphasis on killing have made young people forget that there’s an important philosophy behind the martial arts. He hopes that teens and kids will discover some of the older movies that serve up a bit of morality along with the moves. Jackie ended the interview by talking about how he’ll be recording a song for the Olympics and then sang a bit of an earlier song he did for the Games. Of course, all that was just a prequel to Jackie signing my autograph book in both Chinese and English!

 

 

THE “ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS” DVD COMMENTARY TRACK

April 7, 2008

Last year, I spent a number of months working on the Fox movie “Alvin And The Chipmunks” as the assistant to the animation director. And while that often meant staying in my office and organizing and Xeroxing storyboards, I did manage to visit every set that was used. So when Fox decided not to put a commentary track on the new “Alvin” DVD, I thought I would do one. So start the movie (I bought mine on sale at Borders yesterday) and follow along…

:49 – The second unit spent a few days in the Sierra Mountains of California to get this forest footage.

1:16 – The tree the Chipmunks live in was created on a soundstage at Sunset-Gower Studios in Hollywood. All through the filming of the movie, there was debate going on between the producers, the animation staff and the studio on how the Chipmunks should look. Obviously, they eventually came to an agreement.

Every scene with the Chipmunks was storyboarded. That means artists would draw every action of each Chipmunk scene, doing two drawings on each piece of paper. The storyboards were important to show the filmmakers where the Chipmunks would be inserted and what they would be doing, as they were put in after filming by computer magic. My job was to keep the storyboards in order and make sure they were kept up to date. Every time the script changed, the storyboards had to be re-drawn to fit the new action taking place.

3:04 – This exterior is a real courtyard in Hollywood.

3:10 – There’s my boss’s name, Animation Supervisor Chris Bailey. In addition to supervising the storyboard artists, one of Chris’ jobs was to be on set whenever they were filming a scene that included the Chipmunks to make sure the scene was shot correctly to allow the later insertion of the Chips. They had Chipmunk dolls (called stuffies) attached to poles, so they would run through the scene with the stuffies so the actors and cameramen could see where the animals would eventually be , then take the stuffies away and shoot the scene.

3:16 – Our first look at the interior of Dave’s house. The entire interior and walkway in front of the house was built on a soundstage at Sunset-Gower. The director, Tim Hill, did a great job of mixing the exteriors shot at the apartment complex with the footage shot on stage.

I admit I wasn’t sure if Jason Lee would make a good David Seville when he was first cast because Jason has previously shined in movies where he’s shown a bit of laidback charm, and I knew this role would call for more energy. But he did a great job and was certainly able to yell “Alviiin!” like a pro.

3:42 – There’s the list of executive producers. Let’s give a shout-out to Michele Imperato Stabile, who hired me for the movie.

4:01 – Here’s our first look at the lovely Cameron Richardson, who you may remember from the epiosde of “House” where she played a young fashion model.

5:08 – The scenes at Jett Records were filmed at L.A.’s Gas Company Tower downtown. In fact, this was the location during the first day of filming on March 31, 2007. As it was nowhere near Christmas when the movie was shot, all the Xmas decorations you see were added by the set decorators.

5:25 – Whenever the Chipmunks make an appearance in a scene, their voices on set were provided by three vocal stand-ins, once of whom was Vanessa Bagdasarian, daughter of executive producers Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman. Actors Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney recorded their voices for Alvin, Simon and Theordore after the movie was finished with principal photography.

By the way, 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.

9:46 – See outside the door? That’s on the soundstage.

13:35 – You have to hand it to Jason Lee. He did all this without a Chipmunk in sight!

21:42 – Dave writes “The Chipmunk Song,” which in the original version was a number one hit in December, 1958. It sold more than 2, 500, 000 copies in three weeks and won three Grammys.

22:28 – Notice Spongebob on TV? Director Tim Hill once worked as a writer on the show.

24:15 – The movie is dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian, who created the Chipmunks and was the original David Seville. But his son, executive producer Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., also inserted a few more subtle tributes to his late father, and here’s one of them. The piano used by Jason Lee is the original one that Ross first wrote songs like “Witch Doctor” and “The Chipmunk Song” on.

By the way, Alvin, Simon and Theodore were named after executives at Bagdasarian’s record company, Liberty Records. Alvin was named for Al Bennett, president of the label, Simon for Bennett’s partner, Si Waronker and Theodore for Ted Keep, a recording engineer.

29:42 – One of the storyboard artists stayed late one night to finish the Chipmunks’ “coloring project.” I swear to you that he’s a better artist than that.

34:04 – Notice Dave’s address is 1958, the year that “Witch Doctor” and “The Chipmunk Song” first hit number one. Another tribute from Ross Bagdasarian to his father.

34:50 – In the script, the writers suggested the song should be “Let’s Get It On,” but I guess that didn’t work out.

40:06 – What a house! The mansion was located in Thousand Oaks. I heard it was up for sale at the time… if you had $ 23 million on hand! On the positive side, it did include a lot of land.

43:36 – Amoeba Music in L.A., just blocks away from the production offices at Sunset-Gower Studios.

50:50 – It says Stage 1 and it is. The set decorators and art department did a great job of making this soundstage at Sunset-Gower look impressive. Normally the soundstage is used by the TV show, “Heroes.” In fact, you can’t see it, but one side of the room past the curtains contains the balcony set where so much of the action on “Heroes” takes place.

51:05 – See that “Witch Doctor” wall hanging? Animation supervisor Chris Bailey took it home to use as a decoration. The real trick was fitting the two halves into his car!

51:39 – The Chipmunks perform “Witch Doctor.” The song was inspired by a book Ross Bagdasarian owned called “Duel With The Witch Doctor.”

1:01:27 – More scenes at the mansion. I later recognized this house used as a set for a scene in the pilot of the Fox TV show, “Drive.”

1:02:45 – Unlike the interiors of Dave’s house, all the scenes inside the mansion were actually filmed there.

1:06:07 – See the guy looking in the camera’s viewfinder. That’s a cameo appearance by executive producer Ross Bagdasarian, son of the Chipmunks’ creator.

1:06:14 – One thing has always bothered me about the movie. How could Dave afford such a nice house and yet drive such a crappy car?

1:08:24 – While the movie did film concert scenes at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, they were only there shooting for a few days. So they built an exact replica of the theater’s stage back at Sunset-Gower for scenes like this.

1:13:14 – The roof scene was shot in front of a screen on a  Sunset-Gower soundstage. They built a small bit of roof just for the scene.

1:14:16 – There’s the exterior of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. You may recognize it from use during Hollywood Week on “American Idol” over the years.

1:20:26 – This scene was a real challenge for the storyboard artists, as they tried to come up with ways for the Chipmunks to cause trouble using what was already on the set.

1:28:26 – I hope you’re still watching, because otherwise you’d miss the highlight of the movie… my name in the credits!