‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’: Film Review

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’: Film Review.

In November, the 18-year-old actress told Seventeen, “She’s in the business, and she’s very, very mean. The three previous films in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” franchise have grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide despite consistent, nearly unanimous critical drubbings.

It may have been four long years since the last Chipmunks movie outing, but the arrival of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip makes it feel like they’ve never been gone. Bella Thorne made headlines in November when she blasted an unnamed Hollywood “mean girl” in her Seventeen magazine cover story, but the Big Sky star told HuffPost Live on Tuesday, December 15, that there was a “little part” missing from that interview. No less noisy, obnoxious or just plain groan-inducing than the previous installments, this new adventure for the garish CG renderings of the amusing characters originally created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. for a 1958 novelty record unsurprisingly tosses out more of the same. Once again reuniting Dave Seville (Jason Lee) with his CG-animated trio of multiplatinum singing sciurids, the Walt Becker-directed “Road Chip” finally finds a way to question the legality of his guardianship, a status that is thrown into question when he introduces his charges to his new girlfriend, a doctor named Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley, helpfully wearing a stethoscope around her neck at all times). And even if I did, I’m not very much like that.” “If somebody wasn’t flaunting it in a mean way to make other people feel bad about themselves, then I would not mind it,” the starlet continued. “It’s when people do it in certain types of ways that make you not appreciate them as much.” While some may assume the identity of the unnamed gal to be Kylie or Kendall Jenner, the former Disney Channel darling previously shut down rumors of any grudge between her and the reality TV siblings.

A single parent herself, Samantha comes with teenage son Miles (Josh Green), an Eddie Haskell-style bully who takes an immediate dislike of his rodential counterparts. As a result, the opening weekend pickings could be decidedly slimmer for Alvin and company, drawing primarily a younger audience whose sensibilities may be a bit too tender for the Dark Side. Thorne said she can relate to those who have been bullied. “It’s not necessarily about one person… there’s always a mean girl in school – it’s in Hollywood too,” she described.

When Dave takes Samantha to Miami to attend an album release party for his new protege (Bella Thorne, who may or may not be aware that her co-stars are animated chipmunks), the ‘Munks — once again unrecognizably voiced by Justin Long (Alvin), Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon) and Jesse McCartney (Theodore) — and Miles are left home alone together. Horrified by the prospect that they could soon become step-siblings (and whipped into a panic by Miles’ assurance that Dave will abandon them once he and Samantha start a new family), the foursome set off to Miami, leaving a trio of squirrels loose in the house to fool a dippy next-door neighbor (Jennifer Coolidge) tasked with looking after them. (The Chipettes are relegated to bit parts here, having secured a judging gig on “American Idol.”) After some in-flight anarchy grounds their plane, the boys wind up marooned in Texas, pursued by a malignant air marshal with a longstanding anti-Chipmunk grudge (Tony Hale, taking over the villain’s role from his former “Arrested Development” co-star David Cross, who memorably described his role in 2011’s “Chipwrecked” as “the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.”) The trio and Miles gradually warm up to one another, with Miles becoming their backing guitarist for busking dates as they wind their way to New Orleans, staging a blowout rendition of “Uptown Funk” with a French Quarter jazz band. (The song is appropriately chipmunked, though a later appearance of “Turn Down for What” is not, representing perhaps the only time the film demonstrates enough potential to squander.) At the risk of praising the film with faint damnation, nothing here is any better than it has to be, but it’s rarely anywhere near as bad as it could be. Incoming director Walt Becker (Wild Hogs), the fourth individual to be handed the reins in as many films, takes an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach to the customarily lazy franchise, although there are admittedly a couple of chuckle-worthy sight gags involving decoy squirrels in the early going. One of the reasons I don’t like her is because she’s been a billionaire since she was very little, and she’s never had to work for anything in her life.” The actress said that it’s not that she dislikes the unnamed starlet because of her money. “It’s not I hate her because she’s a billionaire. Groaner pop-culture gags come and go painlessly, instances of chipmunk poop are fleeting, and from the acting to the animation to the choreography, every production element here sets a precariously low bar and then clears it well enough.

Camera (color), Peter Lyons Collister; editor, Ryan Folsey; music, Mark Mothersbaugh; music supervisors, Tom Wolfe, Manish Raval; production designer, Richard Holland; costume designer, Mary Claire Hannan; supervising art director, Paul D. Kelly; sound, Todd Weaver; supervising sound editors, Galen Goodpaster, Doug Jackson; re-recording mixers, Jim Bolt, Beau Borders; visual effects producer, Steve Durbin; senior visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; visual effects and animation, Weta Digital; assistant director, Michelle Panelli-Venetis; casting, Sheila Jaffe, Jackie Burch.

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