Decision: doing Alvin and the Chipmunks
"Something that had ramifications to this day that I didn't think would be such a pain in the ass -- but it truly exemplifies the idea of taking money for a project that you don't necessarily want to do or that you're proud of -- was obviously Alvin and the Chipmunks. It's a big, dumb movie, but it's for children. And children love it. I mean, they love it. Nobody expected it to be a $150 million movie. Nobody! The downside of that is, once you sign that contract, you are contractually obligated: if they need to do sequels, you're in that fucking sequel.
"I was contractually obligated to do three Chipmunks movies, so I did three. The first two were fun. They were fine. And the last one was a pretty awful experience. The producers on it were just awful people to work for, to work with, and they did things to make me miserable, too. I was like, 'Wow, really, guys?' They gave me this shitty trailer -- I have pictures of it! -- which was moldy, leaking, and broken. This was when I was trying to get out of being on the cruise ship, which I didn't have to… [Sighs.] It's a long story. It would take me 20 minutes to tell.
"So that was a decision that… I wouldn't say was a poor decision, because I've probably made more money on those three movies -- and this is absolutely the truth, this is not an exaggeration, because they bump up your salary with each sequel -- than I have on literally every other project I've ever done, including my stand-up, combined. You know, a lot of stuff I do doesn't make money. I mean, I lost money with Todd Margaret. Twice. But there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't pay off, especially when you remove yourself from other work that might be more lucrative.
"I've had to eat a lot of shit about doing Alvin and the Chipmunks. Not that anyone really cares. I don't think they really, truly, deep down, are like, 'How dare you! You sold out!' But it's an easy target, and I recognize that. It's not like I'm sitting there going, 'What are you talking about? It was an amazing movie!' I recognize that it is what it is. But, again, the mitigating factor in all of this is that it's for 5-year-olds! [Laughs.] But I hadn't worked for six months, and it was less about the money than it was that I hadn't worked. Six months is a fucking eternity, and it fucks with your head. The first three months, you're like, 'Well, something will happen.' And then, when three turns into four turns into five turns into half a year, you're going, 'I can't get hired, and I'm never going to work again.' So I was happy to take the work, very happy to be offered the work, and obviously there's a little bit of desperation there, but… it's a kids movie! So you do it. And you hope it leads to other work."
VERDICT: WISE DECISION (at least financially speaking)