By Nico Beland
Movie Review: F (1 ½ stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX
Alvin and the Chipmunks 4: The Road Chip, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 4: THE ROAD CHIP! The title itself proves to be a tragedy before the movie even starts, and truth be told I’ve never considered myself a fan of Alvin and the Chipmunks, not because the original cartoons are bad or anything like that, but it never really caught on with me, much like The Smurfs. I admire that it kept little kids in the 80s and 90s entertained but the classic cartoons for me were Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and Scooby-Doo.
When I first saw the trailer for the first live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movie back in 2007 when I saw The Simpsons Movie in theaters, I rolled my eyes and shrugged “This is probably going to fail hard, Fox already gave Garfield and Fat Albert a good beating with their films, so this is no different!” but much to my surprise…it wasn’t good…that’s it, the first Chipmunks movie I don’t consider to be god awful but rather mostly harmless for little kids, it just came and went to me and after seeing it I never really spoke of it again, not to mention there were much better family films released at that time like Bee Movie, Enchanted, and The Water Horse.
So I don’t hate the first movie, but I don’t think it’s good either, but then we move into the “Squeakquel” territory, Unlike the first film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel released in 2009 and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, released in 2011 were exactly what I thought they would be at first, even after seeing the trailer, I had extremely low expectations and those expectations proved me right, they were corporate cash grabs developed by Fox and cheap ways to capitalize on popular songs from the mid-2000s and early 2010s (surprisingly no Justin Bieber songs were tackled with these movies…yet!). Despite the second film being released around the time Avatar, The Princess and the Frog, and Sherlock Holmes came out, it still managed to grab in bucks with much less effort required, unlike these far superior films released around Christmas.
The third film sort of falls under the same category with other December 2011 releases like Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and The Adventures of Tintin, despite not making as much as these films, it was still a box office success with the general audience (or should I say little kids and their parents that were dragged to the cinema to see this movie!). And now four years after the release of Chipwrecked, we now have the fourth installment of the franchise, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, released NOT around the same time, but literally the EXACT same day as STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, COME ON MAN!
Everyone knows that a movie released the same day as a Star Wars movie doesn’t stand a chance when it comes to box office results, but they did it anyway, because they probably thought they so much “Care” was put into the movie and their “Charm and family delight” is just what the whole family needs around Christmas. NO! They need Jedi battles and droids, not this, but to be fair Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a little better with its material than previous installments, but it’s still a corporate mess to capitalize on popular songs and a popular franchise (Not to mention we have a new cartoon show on Nickelodeon that’s CG and looks like it’s been modeled after the hideous CGI chipmunks from the movies), and also another film released just to snag all the money from little kids’ piggy banks and just in time for Christmas.
So the story begins with Dave Seville (Jason Lee-My Name Is Earl, Chasing Amy, The Incredibles) leaving on a trip to Miami with his new sweetheart, Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley-Porco Rosso, Father of the Bride, We Are Marshall) and leaves his three talking chipmunk sons, Alvin (voiced by Justin Long-Galaxy Quest, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler-500 Days of Summer, The Great Buck Howard), and Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney-Horton Hears A Who, Tinker Bell) in the hands of Samantha’s teenage brother, Miles (Josh Green), a bully who physically abuses our poor little heroes, he doesn’t like them, and they don’t like him.
It’s not long when the Chipmunks discover that Dave has a wedding ring in his possession and they assume that Dave might be planning to marry Samantha, thus resulting in Miles becoming their new stepbrother. So Miles and the Chipmunks agree to work together to ruin the chances of their parents getting married after all sorts of hijinks and hilarity. From releasing pets and wild animals on a flying airplane to escaping a psychotic air marshal, Agent James Suggs (Tony Hale-The Informant, The Kings of Summer, Stranger Than Fiction) who holds a serious grudge with the Chipmunks, the “Chip” is on as Alvin, Miles, Simon, and Theodore race to Miami to prevent their lives from going “Nutty”.
Overall, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is pretty much exactly how it sounds, a fourth outing with three annoying talking and singing chipmunks, a corporate cash grab, and a lazily put together installment that doesn’t offer much new things. The live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies aren’t exactly so bad that it gets into my deepest core of anger, unlike the live-action Scooby-Doo and Garfield movies, because Alvin and the Chipmunks was never a staple of my childhood or even adulthood, it’s obviously meant for little, LITTLE kids, 3-5 year olds at best, it’ll keep them entertained but as for you parents, may God have mercy on your souls.
What really shocked me about this installment is that there were very few musical numbers with the Chipmunks, I can’t believe I’m saying this but 2 and 3 did a better job balancing Chipmunk music with the plot, and no that still doesn’t mean they’re good movies. One somewhat positive aspect of the film was Tony Hale as the air marshal, it’s not at all a good performance, it’s a horrible performance, but it’s such a bad, over the top performance that it becomes entertaining and funny, and it’s a refreshing change of pace when it comes to the films’ villains, as in constantly rehash David Cross from the other three films.
But that’s about it when it comes to positive aspects here, which is a real shame because to be fair, a lot of talented and funny people worked on these films, Jason Lee I don’t consider him a direct line to my funny bone but I’ve seen plenty of movies and TV shows where I found him to be very funny and entertaining, he’s usually not bad and even in these movies you can tell he’s trying his hardest. But Tony Hale and Jason Lee aren’t enough to save this Chipmunk tragedy, if you want a satisfying family night out before Christmas, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.