Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (1 star)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Tiresome fourth instalment of the popular kids’ franchise that mixes live action and animation

The fourth entry in the popular Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, from director Walt Becker (Van Wilder: Party Liaison), sees the three squeaky-voiced vermin hitting the road on a mission to stop their owner Dave (Jason Lee) from proposing to a woman. If this weak premise sounds like no reason at all for a movie, then its frivolity is part of the appeal; the Chipmunks films are just an excuse for musical sequences designed to repackage pop hits for pre-teens, with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ hit ‘Uptown Funk’ providing the central set-piece.

With the Chipettes busy working as judges on American Idol, Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) take an instant dislike to Miles (Josh Green), the brother of Dave’s girlfriend Samantha (Kimberley Williams-Paisley). The chipmunks attempt to pursue Dave to Miami to stop his proposal, but are thwarted in their attempts to fly by overzealous air marshal Agent Suggs (double Emmy-winning comedian Tony Hale, star of Veep and Arrested Development).

Parents who feel the need to subject their children to these tired antics will note such minor incidental pleasures as a cameo from John Waters; ‘I’ve seen Pink Flamingos,’ offers Alvin, in a line that suggests that the chipmunks’ viewing habits may be darker than assumed. Waters’ taboo-busting 1972 film saw excrement eaten on-screen, and The Road Chip forces its audience to do something similar – a sugar-sweet, nutty kind of chip-muck, but cinematic excrement all the same.

Lee chooses, as he usually does, to remain off-screen for most of the film, leaving Hale to the heavy lifting in terms of gurning and pratfalls. With the first three films making over a billion dollars worldwide and this latest instalment already racking up the currency elsewhere, one suspects that the trio’s tiresome journey has some way to go yet.

General release from Fri 12 Feb.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

  • 1 star
  • 2015
  • US
  • 1h 26min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Walt Becker
  • Written by: Ross Bagdasarian, Janice Karman, Randi Mayem Singer
  • Cast: Jason Lee, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Bella Thorne, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Tony Hale
  • UK release: 12 February 2016

The three squeaky-voiced vermin hit the road on a mission to stop their owner Dave (Lee) from proposing. A passing reference to John Waters' 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos, which features an infamous excrement-eating scene, highlights the extent to which this film serves pretty much the same substance to the viewer.