I don’t take film recommendations from my son, but it is worth noting before you read anything below that my son loved “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.” Two full days after the screening and he’s still talking about it. Of course, I don’t suggest you take recommendations from my son either.
My point, ineloquently though I may be making it, is that despite what my son may say about “The Road Chip,” it isn’t a great movie. It isn’t horrendous—there were definitely some moments when I smiled—but when he goes back to see it again (my daughter is interested and he’ll go back when she does), my wife will be taking them both. I don’t need to see it again.
This is the fourth entry in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” filmic franchise and is helmed by Walt Becker, whose last big screen director credit is 2009’s “Old Dogs.” Jason Lee returns here as Dave as do Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney as the voices of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, respectively. You won’t know its those last three folks returning, what with their voice being chipmunked and all, but it is.
As these things usually do, the basic problem in the film revolves around a lack of communication. The Chipmunks think Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend, Sam (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), and they aren’t happy about it… nor is Sam’s son, Miles (Josh Green). So, the Chipmunks and Miles decide to stop it from happening.
The whole road trip thing comes in when the Chipmunks further believe that Dave is going to issue this proposal in Miami (they live in L.A.). So, they have to get to Miami, with Miles, to stop Dave. Unfortunately, plane tickets cost a lot, Miles can’t afford seats for all four of them, and Tony Hale’s air marshal, Suggs, doesn’t like the shenanigans the Chipmunks get up to on the plane in order to work their way around this lack of tickets.
For reasons necessitated wholly by plot, after the plane is forced to land halfway across the country rather than making the full trip (the Chipmunks did not win friends and influence people on that flight), Tony Hale chases the Chipmunks to Miami in obsessive fashion. He is a present day Sherriff Buford T. Justice and, just as with Sherriff Justice, Suggs repeatedly finds himself thwarted by the Chipmunks. For their part, the Chipmunks, like the Bandit and Cledus, are just out for a good time and not trying to hurt anyone.
None of it is fresh or new, but it doesn’t matter, the songs are catchy, it’s bright and colorful and cheery, and—this may be most important for you parents—there is nothing so offensive about any of it to have adults leave the theater with a bad taste in their mouths. I can’t recommend it, but I won’t say that it’s something that has to be avoided at all costs. If you’re looking for a way to spend 90 minutes out of the house with the family this holiday break and the kids are too young for “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” this could fit the bill.
photo credit: 20th Century Fox