Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 86 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 8+. Lots of bathroom humor and slapstick violence here, including jokes about flatulence, kissing, men getting hit in the crotch, and mental illness; a chipmunk urinates and defecates down a human’s leg; an adult gets drunk and blacks out; someone is impaled in the face with toothpicks during a bar brawl; some bullying; some flirting; and chipmunks singing some suggestive songs, including Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’ is soulless and joyless. Skip this for your sanity.
By Roxana Hadadi
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” ends with the message that “families come in all shapes and sizes,” but before that it inundates viewers with gross bathroom humor, chipmunks singing sexually suggestive songs, and bullying disguised as bonding. You shouldn’t have to sit through a movie so awful for a message so trite. And you won’t laugh even once.
“The Road Chip” is the fourth film in this franchise, after the preceding “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “The Squeakquel,” and “Chipwrecked,” and the narrative is always the same: Alvin and his brothers Simon and Theo get into trouble, their father figure Dave gets mad at them, eventually it all turns out to be a misunderstanding and everyone reaffirms their love for each other. That is exactly what happened in the last three movies and it is exactly what happens again here, just with more distasteful and unfunny jokes about feces, farting, and urine, because this movie wants you to suffer. Deliberate malevolence is the only explanation for this idiocy.
In “The Road Chip,” troublemaker Alvin (voiced by Justin Long, of “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D”), intelligent Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler, of “Chipwrecked”), and chubby Theo (voiced by Jesse McCartney, of “Chernobyl Diaries”) are taking a break from being internationally famous singing sensations at the request of their father figure, Dave (Jason Lee, of “Chipwrecked”).
They’re feeling lost without music, and also abandoned once Dave starts dating heart surgeon Shira (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), whose similarly aged son Miles (Josh Green) starts bullying Alvin, Simon, and Theo. And after the chipmunks spot an engagement ring that they think means Dave is going to propose to Shira during a trip to Miami, they begrudgingly team up with Miles to go on a road trip to stop the proposal.
An escalating series of disastrous events caused by the chipmunks—they end up on the no-fly list and attract the hatred of an air marshal, who starts chasing them to Miami—gets them in deeper and deeper trouble. And as they spend more time with the insecure, negative Miles, they start to wonder if Dave even wants to be their father anymore, or, if as Miles says, they are “just a bunch of chipmunks he calls his kids.”
“The Road Chip” doesn’t deviate one iota from a narrative that you can guess from the first few seconds of the film, when Miles is introduced as not liking the chipmunks and Dave mentions needing some space for his own career—you guessed it, by the end Miles likes Simon and Co. and Dave realizes that he needs to be a more-available parent! Those aren’t spoilers because they’re so irritatingly obvious, and the film’s slapdash message about family would be stronger if it weren’t so superficial.
What is more frustrating than the lack of surprises, though, is the casual gross-out humor and lazy sexism on display. Sarah is a renowned heart surgeon, but her only character trait is that she forgets to take off her stethoscope when Dave and her are out on dates. Dave calls it “cute,” and that’s about all the attention she gets. There is no respect for her, even though her accomplishments are theoretically a huger deal than Dave’s music-producing career. And the constant sight gags of chipmunks grossing it up with bathroom humor, let alone their nauseatingly Auto-Tuned performances of songs like “Uptown Funk” and “Baby Got Back,” get old fast.
How much longevity is left in this franchise? Hopefully none at all. With any luck, “The Road Chip,” with its new rock-bottom approach to filmmaking, is the end of the road for these chipmunks.
Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.