What it's about:
In the fourth Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, after being tormented by her son, the Chipmunks head off to Miami to try stop Dave from proposing to his new girlfriend and leaving them behind.
What we thought:
At this point, what more is there to be said about this unbelievably endurable franchise? From a sixties Christmas novelty hit to this latest major(ish) film series – I'm still trying to get over the fact that this is the fourth installment – there's just no keeping Alvin, Simon and Theodore down. Unfortunately, based on the evidence of the Road Chip, they are well beyond in need of a long nap.
Admittedly, it is somewhat hard to review a film aimed squarely at no one over the age of six when you're a thirty-four year old man, but the real problem with this third Chipmunks sequel is that it is so tired, so leaden in it execution that it's hard to believe that even its target audience will find much to enjoy.
Sure, the Chipmunks remain undeniably cute and the old fart gag is bound to still be a solid enough source of amusement for the young 'uns (and maybe a few young 'uns at heart) but even allowing for the primal children's fear of abandonment, it's hard to believe that any but the least discerning of toddlers would find much to connect to in this increasingly repetitive story.
The jokes too aren't so much juvenile as they are largely non existent. Tony Hale – so brilliant in much more adult fare like Arrested Development and Veep – provides a handful of small chuckles in what is obviously just a quick paycheck for him as the film's air-marshal baddie, but he does at times seem to be the only one the film's writers wrote any actual gags for.
As for the musical numbers, that have always been part and parcel of the whole Chipmunks experience, well, things fare little better here. First, there's just no getting past this, the modern pop songs they cover range between forgettable and utterly awful, and because these tunes (such as they are) are usually auto-tuned to the point that they sound like they're sung by digital chipmunks in their original form, the Chipmunks versions come across as redundant as they are awful. The occasional classic like unofficial New Orleans anthem, Iko Iko, fares significantly better, but, again, there's less humour to be squeezed out of the Chipmunk's version than there really ought to be.
All this said, though, despite the fact that I can't help but feel that the Road Chip comes dead last in a holiday season that includes the lavish The Good Dinosaur, the thoroughly charming Peanuts movie and the really quite lovely The Little Prince, I can't say for sure that young kids will feel the same. After all, the old fashioned, nostalgia-tinged tiny charms of the Peanuts characters might well connect far less well with your average five year old than the much zanier and larger-than-life Chipmunks. And, of course, with their darker themes, The Little Prince and The Good Dinosaur might be just a bit too much for the really young ones.
What I can say is this, though, if you are over the age of, I don't know, eight, I feel very, very sorry for you if you have to sit through this garbage with your kids or younger siblings. And heaven help you if your little one wants a copy of it on DVD...