"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" stars Jason Lee, Tony Hale, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney. Released on December 18, 2015, the film has Alvin, Simon, and Theodore going on a road trip to Miami to stop Dave's proposal.
The film is directed by Walt Becker, who also directed Van Wilder, Wild Hogs, and Old Dogs. It is the fourth installment of the Alvin and the Chipmunks film series, which is based on the characters created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. Truth be told, I am very familiar with the Chipmunks thanks to their television specials, direct-to-video films, soundtracks, and the 2015 CGI animated show that is currently showing on Nickelodeon. The live-action/CGI film series starring those mischievous rodents have been quite successful for audiences despite the negative reception from critics who still have absolutely no clue that they're made for kids. I happen to enjoy those films despite the childish humor and story lines. At first, I thought they were completely done with the franchise since Chipwrecked came out in 2011, but to my surprise, they decided to make a fourth Chipmunks film and have it open on the same weekend as Star Wars. For this review, I decided to have a special guest reviewer who actually saw this film with me: my mom. So how does this installment fare for us?
Me: The cast delivered some pretty decent performances throughout the film. Most of the original cast from the first three films returned to portray their respective characters, such as Jason Lee as Dave and Justin Long as the voice of Alvin. I always thought that Lee did a nice job portraying Dave in the films and he doesn't disappoint in this latest outing. The Chipmunks and the Chipettes were still adorable as always, and the CGI works wonders with the characters. Like the first three films, the humor in this one was tolerable. There were times where some of the jokes can go over kids' heads and some of them were just plain dumb. While I do think they're funny, I just don't think it will suit well for people who want smarter comedies that don't involve a lot of potty humor. The film also involves some jukebox songs that were sung by the Chipmunks, such as "Uptown Funk", which were pretty catchy and fun to listen to. However, it would be nice if they had some more original songs by the Chipmunks.
One of the flaws I have with this film, besides its humor, was the story. I can easily understand that they wanted to keep it simple for the younger crowd, but I think they made it too simple for the much older crowd, which could lead to some predictable moments. The pacing in this film is a bit consistent for the kids to follow along, although at times there were some scenes that felt a bit rushed to me. Then we have the new villain, Suggs, played by Arrested Development star Tony Hale. Yep, we don't get to see David Cross in this franchise anymore because he's far too busy saving China in Kung Fu Panda. Anyway, back to Tony Hale, my God…where do I begin? He tried way too hard to be a villain that it comes off as forced and cartoony, even his back story on why he's after the chipmunks was dumb. But hey, it is a kids movie, after all. I believe if you take him out of the film completely, it might not affect anything that occurred at all.
Mom: I have to be honest, after Chipwrecked I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We definitely enjoyed the first 2 chipmunk movies making sure they were at the top of the to do list for Christmas Eve. This year we put this one on the top of our list for one of our "Christmas week" movies and I was not disappointed. They clearly went back to what worked in the first movie. The importance of family and how family comes in many different packages. The movie just pulled me in. The music was catchy and I found myself "bopping" and "toe tapping" in my seat. Always a good sign as far as I am concerned. I felt they did a very good job of pulling together the feelings of potential step brothers along with the feelings of not being wanted. As always it ends on a positive heart warming note with one last yell to "ALVIN!!!". There is no way to leave this movie without a smile on your face. Anytime I can leave the theater feeling good, I can't rate the movie any less than a B. Anyone who wants a fun, toe tapping, safe, family film should be taking their kids to see this one!
Me: Overall, "The Road Chip" does show signs of the franchise going downhill, but it's still a fun, yet flawed, trip for those who enjoy the Chipmunks for what they were. Like the first three films, this one will definitely depend on your tolerance towards the high-pitched rodents. If you're looking for a harmless family film this holiday season or you have kids that are too young for Star Wars, this is probably the film you're looking for. For those who are still complaining about another Chipmunks film, you better get over it.
My Mom's Letter Grade: B
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