When it comes to irritating films starring irritating characters with irritating voices indulging in irritating plotlines, no other film franchise can top Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Every year there’s a movie from the Chipmunks series that does the exact same things over and over again, and they make money because some kids giggle due to the voices of the chipmunks. For a grown adult, or even a child with some semblance of intelligence, this is the kind of franchise that makes you hate kids’ films.
In the fourth outing of the Chipmunks, titled Road Chip (wordplay on Road Trip – get it?) Dave (Jason Lee) is now a record label honcho who needs to take a trip to Miami with his girlfriend Shira (Kimberley Williams-Paisley) where a new song from pop star Ashley (Bella Thorne) is going to be released. However since Dave doesn’t trust the chipmunks from causing trouble he enlists Shira’s son Miles (Josh Green) to keep them under check.
But Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) realize that Dave is going to propose to Shira, so they take the titular road trip to try and stop this engagement. The ‘antagonist’ of the film, air marshal Benson (Hale) does his best to try and stop the Chipmunks from causing trouble and fails repeatedly.
If you’re in the market for fart jokes, squeaky voices, songs that are supposed to be funny because they sound like someone under the influence of helium gas, tiresome clichéd scenes of ‘family being there for each other’, schmaltzy moments of brotherly fraternity, then Road Chip is the movie for you. It ticks off every single hackneyed element of a children’s movie from the 90’s, except without the nostalgic power of that decade.
For the rest of us, Road Chip is an incredibly tiring slog. Slapstick is perhaps the most easily watchable genre, and this film proves that it is possible to be bored by even this form of comedy. The moment things go haywire when all kinds of animals are unleashed in the cabin of a moving plane, and it doesn’t even twitch the funny bone in you, you know this film is going to be an excruciating watch.
Benson does everything possible to overact, and there’s often a competition between his character and the Chipmunks for the prize of the most obnoxious character in the movie. A minor relief arrives when you get to know that the even more irritating Chipettes from the previous films are not present in the film as leads – they go off to participating in American Idol.
The film is directed by Walt Becker who has previously made the critically panned Wild Hogs and Old Dogs – with Road Chip he now has a trilogy of unwatchable movies to his credit. The only interesting question this film raises is why the voice actors in the film are famous stars, considering their voices are anyway digitally altered into unrecognizable squeaks? Even the names of the stars don’t appear on the movie posters. So what is their star power adding to the film? Perhaps the next Chipmunks movie would explore this unsettling mystery.