Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Alvin and the Chipmunks- The Road Chip
Director: Walt Becker
Writers: Ross Bagdasarian, Janice Karman, Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel
Cast: Jason Lee, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Josh Green, Tony Hale, Bella Thorne, Eddie Steeples, Jose D. Xuconoxtli Jr., Keith Arthur Bolden, Joshua Mikel, Jeremy Ray Taylor
Voice Cast: Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Christina Applegate, Kaley Cuoco, Anna Faris
Synopsis: Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami...and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild rude humor
5 / 10
- Animation for the Chipmunks has definitely improved. They're given a more lighter tone, and they have more childlike expressions that makes them rather adorable.
- There's nothing in this film that would be bad for kids.
- While the songs aren't anything great, they're not downright terrible either. If anything, the songs are passable.
- Evenly paced.
- Voice acting was good.
- Josh Green's performance was good
- Jokes aren't funny unless you happen to be a fan of poop and fart jokes.
- Apart from Josh Green and the voice actors, most of the other actors pretty much phone it in with their performances.
- Agent Suggs' backstory was completely unnecessary to the plot, and really doesn't add anything to the overall story arch. He could've been written as a basic jerk that takes his job way too seriously, and it still would've worked just fine. His contrived backstory about his girlfriend dumping him, and blaming it on the chipmunks just because one of their songs was playing when it happened, is arguably one of the stupidest excuses to be a villain that I ever heard of. He would've been better off without a backstory. Besides, Ian wasn't given a backstory in the first movie on why he was such a prick, so why is Suggs being given one?
- The concept of Dave allowing the chippettes to live on their own and live the limelight of being celebrities, while forcing the chipmunks to grow up as normal kids, is a bit hypocritical considering they're all around the same freaking age, and both groups were raised by him. However, Dave does say that part of the reason is because he considers the chipmunks his family, and he doesn't want them to miss out on having a childhood. Aw isn't that sweet? It's a damn shame he doesn't give a rat's a** about the chippettes missing out on theirs.
- Very predictable and weak story
- Most of the characters are bland and generic.
To be honest, I'm not sure what to say about this film. On the one hand, the dialogue and jokes are too generic and immature for adults, so obviously anyone over the age of five is going to hate this film. But on the other hand, it's not like the animated movie that came out in the 80's, where it shows anything that might be bad for kids. If anything, it tries to be as family friendly as humanly possible. Sure, you might find a few fart and poop jokes here and there, but it's all in an effort to impress the kiddies. And in the end, that's part of the reason all the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" live action films have sucked thus far.
Sure, they're fairly generic, cliched and predictable. But for the most part, they've been pretty harmless. However, that's also part of the problem. They're too safe for their own good that it borders along the lines of being forgettable. Never taking any chances like "Inside Out" or the "Toy Story" trilogy did, which took tired concepts that's been used various times in the past, and made something thought provokingly deep out of them. Not only remaining sensible enough to appeal to kids, but to adults as well with innovative story telling.
Whereas all the live action "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movies go, there's hardly any risks, and their primary focus seems to be to appeal mostly to kids. And because it doesn't try to capture the adult audiences like Pixar or Dreamworks does with their family movies, it's easy to see why this film turns off a lot of film critics, and mainstream moviegoers that are past the ages of five. But is it really as bad as they claim it is? Let's find out.
The story plays out exactly how you'd expect, which makes all the live action stories tedious and boring to watch half the time because you already know how it plays out before it ends. This newest sequel isn't an exception to that either.
The new movie starts off at the Chipmunks' home, where Alvin decides to throw a house party in honor of Dave getting a new job, while also celebrating the Chippettes becoming judges on American Idol. Gee, and here I thought Sony was the only company that shamelessly promotes their products in live action films.
Needless to say, Dave finds out about the party. He gets pissed. He yells his patented catch phrase, "Alviiiiiiiiiin!", and then he lectures the boys over it afterwards. Fast forward a few scenes later, we're introduced to a bully named Miles, who ends up picking on our lovable protagonists. His bullying tactics range anywhere from hitting them with golf clubs, beating them up, using them to wash his car, or even trying to super glue them together. Isn't animal cruelty fun? Or maybe we should consider that child abuse because everyone treats Alvin and his brothers like kids instead of animals? Whatever. The point is they don't like each other.
But you want to know a bigger shock? Miles' mom is dating Dave. Oh my goodness. What are the odds? Cue in all the hallmark family crap moments that follow. Leave no cliche unturned, as this is one ride you'll soon be forgetting. To make matters worse, the Chipmunks and Miles have reason to believe that Dave might be proposing to his mom, which would make them a family. And in order to keep that from happening, they form a truce, by embarking on a road trip to stop Dave from allegedly proposing.
And from there, the film pretty much plays out exactly like you'd expect it to. Sure, there's a few surprises here and there, but the story is fairly straight forward.
Granted, there have been various cliched predictable kiddie movies that worked before like "The Good Dinosaur" for instance. However, movies like those work because the film does such a great job setting up the characters that you can't help but feel invested into them anyway. Whereas "Alvin and the Chipmuks- The Road Chip", the characters range from being either bland and generic to just flat out annoying. The jokes aren't funny unless you have the sense of humor of a three year old that thinks piss and poop jokes are hilarious. The dialogue itself is too immature and generic for adults to get into, but the chipmunks are adorable for the most part.
The character designs have improved dramatically since the previous films, so they're given more childlike expressions, which I'm sure will make your three year old daughter say, "Aww look at the cute chipmunks."
Having said all of that, it's hard to hate on a film like this because it's obvious from the get go that it's not meant for adults. It's purely meant for the kiddies. And from looking at it from that perspective, I can't really fault it for appealing to it's target audience.
However, i would like to point out a few inconsistencies with the script though, and how certain parts were a tad unnecessary to the story. During the film, the chipmunks and Miles were taken by airport security for causing a disturbance on a flight to stop Dave's alleged proposal.
Needless to say, Agent Suggs (Tony Hale) not only tries to throw our heroes in jail, but he also puts them on the "No fly" list, which he says is in the best interests of national security. As you'd expect from a generic kid movie like this, Agent Suggs is portrayed as something of a clown, as he ends up becoming the butt of most of the humor throughout this movie because of his over the top silly buffoonish attitude. Hell, there's even a scene where he tries to punch Alvin, but he dodges all his punches "Matrix" style in super slow motion.
This probably would've been fine. After all, Ian (David Cross) from the first three movies was a huge dick for no other reason than just being a greedy corporate prick. No explanation necessary. He was just a generic a**hole, and it worked fine mostly because he was never meant to be the focus of the previous films. Merely a tool to help move the story along.
But here, it's a bit different. The movie tries to give Agent Suggs something of a backstory that frankly doesn't work because it wasn't necessary, nor does it add anything to the film other than to give us another reason to laugh at his personal expense.
When we meet Suggs, it's revealed that he used to be a huge fan of the chipmunks. During the Christmas holiday when he was planning to propose to his girlfriend, she breaks up with him, and then tells him to grow up because she finds his musical tastes to be childish because he loves "Alvin and the Chipmunks." And to make matters worse, the classic Chipmunks Christmas song was playing at the time, when his girlfriend dumped him, so he naturally blames Alvin and his brothers for what happened.
Look, I could understand if this backstory was presented as a way to give Suggs more depth as a character, or if they had planned to resolve it in the end. However, when you introduce a backstory that not only adds nothing to the overall plot, while still making him out to be a one dimensional prick, then you have to wonder why the f**k did you feel the need to give him a backstory? Nobody cares about what happened between Suggs and his ex girlfriend, and the story still would've been the same even if you had taken it out. If anything, the backstory just becomes a pointless scene that needlessly drags on the film's overall running time.
Another flaw I found in the story is Dave's logic of wanting to raise the boys to be normal kids (even though they're talking chipmunks), yet he allows the Chippettes to live the limelight of being celebrities? In the last two movies, it was heavily implied that the Chippettes were being raised by Dave as well, yet he allowed them to go off to live on their own to become pop stars. But when it comes to the chipmunks, he tells them that he doesn't want them to perform anymore because he insists on having them grow up like normal kids.
Putting aside the fact that they're not normal kids for a moment, I have to ask how the f*** does that make any sense? Unless Dave is a complete a**hole that doesn't give a s*** about the Chippettes well being, I honestly don't think his logic makes any sense.
First of all, the chippettes and the chipmunks are around the same age. Granted, Simon does mention how girls mature faster than boys do as an excuse, but here's the thing. If you're nine year old daughter had the mental capacity of a thirty year old, then would you be okay with her living on her own? Also what about the chippettes? Don't they deserve to have a normal childhood too? Why are the chipmunks being the only ones restricted to this? At least in the 80's show, you had the excuse of both groups being raised by different human parents. The chippettes being raised by Miss Miller, while the Chipmunks live with Dave respectively. Here, it makes no sense because Dave was raising both these groups like they were his children.
Also keep in mind that he claims it's partially because he considers Alvin and his brothers his real children, so does that mean he never loved the chippettes as his own daughters? That has to hurt, and it makes Dave seem like a bit of a jerk if I'm to be honest.
However, I'm not going to stress over these inconsistencies because it's obvious hardly any effort was put in most of this film. Apart from Josh Green (Miles), most of the actors pretty much phoned it in half the time, as you can tell they were mostly there to get a paycheck.
Unless you have kids that are begging you to take them to see this, or you just happen to love these live action abominations for god knows whatever reason, then I'd just avoid this one at all costs. Go out and see the new "Star Wars" film instead. Or if you can't see it because it's sold out, then just rent out something better to watch at home like "Inside Out", "Shaun the Sheep" or whatever. Anything is better than this crap.
© 2016 Steven Escareno
More by this Author
A struggling song writer by the name of Dave Seville comes upon a trio of talking and singing chipmunks that he originally sees as his path to fame, but eventually forms a family bond with them.
Rafe prepares to start his new life at a new school, but he's harassed by a school principal that cares more about rules that suit his interests than the students. Now, it's time to break some rules.
- 0Critic's Corner: My current thoughts on arguably the world's most controversial adult film star, Mia Khalifa
In this month's topic, we will be discussing arguably the world's most controversial adult film star, Mia Khalifa.