'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip'
If you were to go out into the streets right now and start asking people if they liked the ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ movies, you likely wouldn’t find a single person who said yes. Yet there’s a new ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ movie hitting screens this Friday. Somehow, it’s the fourth one of these damn things since some studio executive hit rock bottom and decided to bring back the squeaky singing rodents for the benefit of no one.
The movies must make money or they wouldn’t continue to exist. However, there doesn’t seem to be a single person who will admit to liking them. “But what about the children, the ones who don’t know any better?” you might ask. Well, good point. It’s likely their fault. Fortunately, at the screening of ‘The Road Chip’ I attended, not even the kids could feign interest in this garbage. With a little luck, even the unthinking kiddie audience has finally given up on the Chipmunks… at least for now.
Things kick off with Alvin hosting a party at Dave’s (Jason Lee) house without permission. You know, because Alvin is naughty in a way the kids find cool! This is mostly an excuse to squeeze in confusing cameos that it’s hard to imagine parents or kids caring about, and it’s also completely disposable from the actual plot. The story, if you want to call it that, involves Dave finding a new lady friend (Kimberly Williams-Paisly) who has a teenage son (Josh Green) that just doesn’t get along with the Chipmunks. You see, he has teenage attitude in a way the kids find cool! Even worse, Alvin discovers a ring that suggests Dave is going to propose to his lady. That means the chips with be sort-of interspecies step brothers with this irritating teen. Horrible!
Even worse, Dave takes the woman to Florida for a romantic proposal trip and leaves the teen with the chipmunks. They hate each other, but decide to join forces to travel across the country to stop the wedding, irritating an air marshal (Tony Hale) in the process. That facilitates stream of chases, lame sketch comedy and high-pitched musical interludes.
Why is this a road movie? Mostly because of the title pun, but also because all of the sorry souls assigned to this project couldn’t care less about their embarrassing (and undoubtedly high paying) ‘Chipmunks’ job. By settling on a road movie structure, they took the pain away of actually having to write a story. Instead, the story laid itself out for them through tedious genre formula, and the rest of the movie was cobbled together in the laziest way possible.
Want to hear a painful chipmunked version of “Uptown Funk”? You got it. Think jokes about one chipmunk being fat and the other one being a nerd are hilarious? Buckle up. Find poop funny? Welcome home. Do you want to see Tony Hale’s natural comedic talents spoil away through overacting? You found it. Actually, the last thing is pretty tough to endure. Hale deserves so much better. Hopefully he was at least well paid. On the plus side, his embarrassing presence continues the Chipmunk movie tradition of getting to see a talented actor’s dreams die on a big screen. I suppose that’s something for cinematic masochists.
Look, we all knew that this ‘Chipmunks’ movie would be abysmal. There’s really no need to dwell on it. After all, the three previous flicks represented the absolute nadir of pandering children’s entertainment and it’s not like the series was suddenly going to be saved by a third sequel – especially since the only person the studio could talk into helming the project was Walt Becker, who had deservingly been locked in director’s jail since ‘Old Dogs’ and ‘Wild Hogs’.
For whatever it’s worth, this is absolutely the worst ‘Chipmunks’ movie yet. Yes, I’ve seen them all. No, I’m not proud of that. If anything, I’m deeply ashamed. These movies aren’t fit for human consumption. With a little luck, the fact that ‘Road Chip’ is opening opposite ‘Star Wars’ in a busy holiday season with lead to a bomb so big it’ll end this franchise once and for all. Weary film critics and exhausted parents deserve it. The only silver lining in the project is that Amy Poehler and David Cross had completed their contractual obligations and weren’t required to return. It’s nice to know that those two major talents didn’t get sullied by the Chipmunks once more. Hopefully that will be true of you as a viewer as well. If not and you’re forced to endure ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’, you have my deepest sympathies.