“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” was made by a director, two screenwriters, two producers and five production companies. Judging by the jarringly muddled finished product, it seems doubtful any two of them were ever in the same room at the same time.
At this point, four movies into a reimagining that started in 2007, there’s no need to deviate from the lazy but lucrative formula. There’s a completely contrived conflict, caused by the ineptitude of the protagonists (check), a bad guy who acts without logic in service of the plot (check), a chipmunk version of “Baby Got Back” (check) …
The best thing you can say about “The Road Chip”: Although there is a joke involving chipmunk poop, at least nobody consumes it this time.
You cling to the small victories with a movie like this. In truth, “The Road Chip” is only the second-worst “Alvin” sequel. It goes, from best to worst: 1. First “Alvin” movie; 2. “Chipwrecked’’; 3. “The Road Chip’’; and 4. “The Squeakquel.” (God, I hated that film. The “Highlander 2” of Chipmunk movies.)
Here’s one more positive: The “Alvin” movies keep getting shorter — from 93 minutes to 89 to 87 to 86 this time around. In a few years, all you’ll have to do is take your kid to the theater and look at an “Alvin” movie poster for a few seconds.
It’s a harsh assessment for a movie that is generally benign. There are moments of sweetness, and a few of the jokes hit. But this is an age of family filmmaking where effort and storytelling are becoming more of a constant. From “Inside Out” to “The Lego Movie” to “Big Hero 6” — hell, even “Minions” — there seems to be a commitment to simultaneously entertaining children and adults, without anyone getting hit in the testicles.
“The Road Chip” features Dave (salute to Jason Lee, for continuing to make an effort) leaving the boys behind in Los Angeles while he goes to Miami, just after he introduces them to a new girlfriend and her teen son. Worried that Dave will get engaged and start a new family, the four travel across country to break up an assumed engagement.
A tour of product placement and regional stereotypes follow, before the ending arrives — an ending that could have been cleared up by a phone call at the beginning of the movie. And now, a nation waits for another sequel with a fifth play on words. May I suggest “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Retire-munk Home”?