It was distributed by 20th Century Fox and produced by Regency Enterprises and Bagdasarian Productions. The film was critically panned, but was a major financial success : on a budget of $60 million, it made $217 million in North America and $361 million at the box office worldwide, and was the seventh-best selling DVD of 2008, earning over $101 million.
The tree that the chipmunks Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) live in is cut down and driven to Los Angeles.
Once in L.A., the Chipmunks meet struggling songwriter David Seville (Jason Lee) who had his latest song rejected by JETT Records executive Ian Hawke (David Cross), his old college roommate. Dave also once had a relationship with his next door neighbor, Claire Wilson (Cameron Richardson).
After winding up at Dave's interview, the Chipmunks hop into his basket and follow him home. Once at home, Dave discovers the Chipmunks, and is accidentally knocked unconscious. Upon waking, he kicks them out until hearing them sing "Only You (And You Alone)". Dave then makes a deal with them; they sing the songs he writes, and in exchange he provides food and shelter for them. However, all does not go well, as Dave's job presentation is ruined by their coloring on it, and when Alvin tries to set the mood for his dinner with Claire, things become weird and she rejects him after he tells her, "My life is being sabotaged by talking chipmunks." To make it up to Dave, the boys go to Ian in an attempt to record a song and get a record deal.
Once the Chipmunks sing Dave's song to Ian, Ian signs them to the label and rehires Dave the next day. After a few singles, the Chipmunks become wildly popular. When Dave expresses concern for their well-being and insists that the Chipmunks are "kids" who don't need so much craziness in their lives, Ian convinces the Chipmunks that Dave is holding them back. Eventually, Dave tells the Chipmunks that if they like "Uncle Ian" so much, they should just go live with him. They become enchanted with Ian at first, but once they set off on a coast-to-coast tour, Ian takes advantage of their naivete, changing their image and working them constantly. Meanwhile, Dave misses the chipmunks and he wishes they would come back home. He calls Ian to see if he can talk to them but Ian refuses, and then conceals Dave's motives from the boys. Later, the Chipmunks are wearing out, and it is all over the news. Dave, infuriated by what Ian has done to the three, decides to take matters into his own hands by infiltrating their concert.
Just before the big concert, a doctor says that the Chipmunks are unable to sing due to their voices given out. Ian refuses to hand out refunds and orders the Chipmunks to lip sync. With Claire's help, Dave sneaks into the concert, but is grabbed by the security guards. When the Chipmunks see Dave being taken away, they decide that they have had enough of Ian, revealing that they were lip-syncing and ruin the concert. They are soon caught by Ian just when Dave is about to rescue them. He locks them up in a cage and prepares to take them to Paris. Dave tries to convince Ian to let the boys go but Ian refuses. Ian then leaves in his limo with the boys and Dave chases them but the boys have already escaped to Dave's car. Dave immediately pulls over and admits that he loves them like his own family. Meanwhile, Ian looks in the cage and is shocked to see the boys have replaced themselves with merchandising dolls.
Sometime later, when the boys are fully accepted as part of the family, they invite Claire over for dinner again. Alvin accidentally creates a short circuit while having difficulty opening a bottle of champagne. Dave is trying not to say it, but the short circuit causes a blackout in the kitchen. Dave can hold it in no longer and says it, letting out his trademark yell "ALLLLVINNN!!", to which Alvin responds with "Okay!".
In the film's epilogue, Ian (now unemployed) tries to make three squirrels sing, but fails.
Alvin and the Chipmunks was released in North America on December 14, 2007. Despite negative reviews, the film grossed $44,307,417 in 3,475 theaters its opening weekend averaging to about $12,750 per venue, and placing second at the box office behind I Am Legend. According to Box Office Guru, the first weekend was twice as much as Fox originally expected. Its second weekend was $28,179,556, behind National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend. On its third weekend, it surpassed I Am Legend for #2 at the box office, but still ranked behind National Treasure : Book of Secrets.
The film closed on Thursday June 5, 2008, making $217,326,974 domestically and $144,009,659 overseas for a total of $361,336,633 worldwide, making it a huge commercial success considering the film's modest $60 million budget. The sustained box-office success of the film surprised 20th Century Fox; Elizabeth Gabler of Fox 2000 told the Los Angeles Times "I look at the numbers every day, and we just laugh." Given its budget, Alvin was far more profitable than either I Am Legend or National Treasure: Book of Secrets. According to MTV, it also became the highest-grossing talking animal/live-action cartoon adaptation until its sequel. It is also 20th Century Fox's highest grossing film domestically to be released in 2007.
* 2008 Kids' Choice Awards: Favorite Movie (winner)
* 2008 Young Artist Awards: Best Family Feature Film (Fantasy or Musical) (nominee)
* 2008 BMI Film & TV Awards: BMI Film Music Award (winner)