If nothing else can be said about Alvin and the Chipmunks, this statement rings true- those chipmunks sure can sing! And dance too and we get some of that in the newest installment to the movie franchise. Alvin and the Chipmunks The Road Chip isn’t anything to write home about, but it is better than the last one.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up on them. I am even a little ashamed to admit that one of the Chipettes was my imaginary friend, so every time they make a new film, I give it a chance. And while the last one was hard to watch and I literally cannot tell you what the plot of the story is unless I Google it (maybe not even then) the saving grace of this one is the music.
I use “saving grace” liberally because any time you have a movie where rodents are bonafide superstars and can be adopted as actual children, you know you are in for some pretty over the top stuff. Taking into consideration that this is a kids’ movie, it is tolerable, which is unfortunate because we live in a world where adults want to see kid movies sometimes more than their children. So the potential for Road Chip to be good was there, but it falls short.
It’s the outlandish things that take away from it for me. I mean yes, there will be unusually unreal situations in these kinds of movies, but they don’t always work and we see that here. One of the issues I have with this film is the villain. In the last three (I Googled it) Uncle Ian played by David Cross is the antagonist with ulterior motives to not only steal Alvin and the crew away from Dave but to monetarily capitalize on it as much as possible. He was good. Super annoying by number three, but good. This time around, the character, not necessarily the actor, that fills that void is corny. An air marshal that spends the ENTIRE movie just a few steps behind the chipmunks because they disrupted a flight isn’t funny and pardon me for wanting to laugh at least a handful of times during a movie that is supposed to make you laugh.
The other thing that I wish they had done differently was Bella Thorne’s character. She plays Ashley, Dave’s artist. He raves about how good she is at what she does and that she has a new record out, but we never get to see her in action. It’s a bummer because Thorne is actually really talented and usually when they put actresses who have singing or dancing talent in a movie, even if her role isn’t that of a singer or dancer, they somehow, someway showcase it. But not here. I mean, at the end, when the Chipmunks and Dave’s girlfriend’s (Samantha) son Miles (a mouthful, I know) save the day, Bella is merely on stage with the Chipettes. And even when they hand her the mic, still, nothing. I was disappointed to say the least.
Now, let me get to the “saving grace.” I grooved to the music. The Chipmunks are always great at doing covers that are kid appropriate yet still worth listening to again, and the creators of the film accomplished that. From “I like Big Butts” to “Uptown Funk” the real excitement and thing that brought my attention back to the screen from the moments my eyes wondered to my phone, was their performances. But sadly, those too were scarce. I wanted those Chipmunks singing every five minutes or, at least, every 10. I can understand if the story called for them to sing less because the plot was just so intricate and interesting, but it’s not which begs the question for me- why such little singing.
It is a move about chipmunks who are known for singing, so I expected that to be a bigger part of the overall story. In fact, (small spoiler) this installment of the franchise doesn’t even focus on their singing career. Instead, the whole gist of the movie is Alvin, Simon, Theodore and Miles, traveling across the country to stop a proposal (Dave and Samantha) that was never going to happen in the first place. It is between the air marshal chases and other mounting conflicts that they trio does impromptu performances. The Chipettes even get more play than the guys, being judges on American Idol, which leads me to wonder if there are any plans for them to have their own movie next.
The bottom line is if you have kids, they will more than likely enjoy it because kids laugh at anything these days. If you are an adult who usually gets a kick out of kid movies, you probably won’t be that amused. I give it 2 out of 5 stars
Film Review: ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’
Reviewed at Fox Studios, Century City, Calif., Dec. 14, 2015. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 86 MIN.
PRODUCTION: A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox 2000, Regency Pictures presentation of a Bagdasarian Co. production. Produced by Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian. Executive producers, Karen Rosenfelt, Arnon Milchan, John Starke, Steve Waterman
CREW: Directed by Walt Becker. Screenplay, Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel, based on the characters Alvin and the Chipmunks created by Ross Bagdasarian, and the Chipettes created by Janice Karman. Camera (color), Peter Lyons Collister; editor, Ryan Folsey; music, Mark Mothersbaugh; music supervisors, Tom Wolfe, Manish Raval; production designer, Richard Holland; costume designer, Mary Claire Hannan; supervising art director, Paul D. Kelly; sound, Todd Weaver; supervising sound editors, Galen Goodpaster, Doug Jackson; re-recording mixers, Jim Bolt, Beau Borders; visual effects producer, Steve Durbin; senior visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; visual effects and animation, Weta Digital; assistant director, Michelle Panelli-Venetis; casting, Sheila Jaffe, Jackie Burch.
WITH: Jason Lee, Tony Hale, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Josh Green, Bella Thorne, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, John Waters, Redfoo, Jennifer Coolidge, Uzo Aduba.