December 10, 2016

Review: ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’

A bus ride with a bunch of people you do not know sound more pleasing than a road chip with these furry annoyances.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip once again follows Alvin, Simon and Theodore (voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) and their guardian Dave Seville (Jason Lee). Dave has a new woman in his life, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who has a son that loves torturing the chipmunks.

Dave and his new flame are heading to Miami. However, the chipmunks discover an engagement ring in Dave’s possession. Thinking he will propose and soon abandon them, the chipmunks and their possible stepbrother set out to Miami to stop this proposal. Meanwhile, they embark on a cross-country escape from Benson (Tony Hale), a flight marshal with a vendetta against the chipmunks.

It was clear from the beginning this interpretation of the chipmunks was following the pattern of the live-action adaptations of beloved cartoons, such as Scooby-Doo and the banal live-action Smurfs series. In these adaptations, much of the heart and humor that made those series so beloved was traded in for product placement and bottom-of-the-barrel humor. Alvin and the Chipmunks is no different. Its interpretations of the most popular songs serve no purpose but to sell the soundtrack.

In this outing, the chipmunks hold back on covers and go for more original material. Its admirable, but the original songs are bland beyond belief. Their cover of “Uptown Funk” and one’s enjoyment of it will depend on the catchiness of the song.

What is especially frustrating about these movies is the complete waste of voice talent. What is the point to getting big names to do the voices of the Chipmunks and their female counterparts, the Chipettes (voiced by Anna Faris, Christina Applegate and Kaley Cuoco) when their voices are going to be sped up? The voice actors are unrecognizable in their roles, but it is an insult to their talents.

This installment was directed by Walt Becker, whose previous credits include Old Dogs and Wild Hogs. He leaves no defining stamp on this franchise, delivering a Chipmunks film that is the exact same as its predecessors. He is working from a wildly unfunny and predictable script.

Lee and Williams-Paisley are coasting through this and Hale is deliriously over-the-top. The only showing enough restraint and some budding talent is Josh Green, who plays the son. For the Disney Channel enthusiastic, Bella Thorne is in the film playing a pop singer, but only for five minutes.

At this fourth outing, that chipmunk squealing becomes nothing more than white noise. This is one road ‘chip’ you should skip.

RATING: 0.5/10

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