Not every movie is meant to stand the test of time. There are plenty of films rolled out each year that are just meant to make some quick money, then fade away quickly. With films aimed at children, it’s easy to spot which ones are there to make some quick money. Among the hints: if the film uses relatively new, hip terms that are already on their way out. Or if it pretends someone who was famous for a few minutes years ago is still notable.
Yes, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip checks both of these hints off, along with many others. Its 86 minute runtime feels punishingly long, in spite of a storyline that’s barely there. The road trip that constitutes part of the subtitle involves Alvin, Simon and Theodore teaming up with Miles (Josh Green), the slightly demented son of Dave’s (Jason Lee) new girlfriend, Shira (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), to head across the country in order to keep Dave from proposing while the two are in Miami.
Shenanigans (and squeaky takes on pop songs) ensue.
I have to wonder, did anyone here want to be involved with this, for more than the paycheck? Lee seems zoned out after four films, Williams-Paisley is largely a non presence, and Green…well, I can’t say I recall seeing him elsewhere, but if his performance here is indicative of his skills, he should get out of acting now. It’s telling when one of the few funny moments in the film involves a cameo from Uzo Adoba, who makes sure to say, “I don’t get paid enough for this.”
(The other funny moment, for me at least, involves a John Waters cameo, complete with mention of one of his most notorious projects. It feels like a rare attempt to include something for adults.)
The laziness extends to the writing, which finds the gang roaming across the country and performing their versions of hits along the way. The plot is an excuse to move everyone around and have different settings for the handful of musical performances.
I don’t know if kids in the demographic for this film will want to see this over other animated films released this year, but for parents looking for a “kid-friendly” film, this may qualify as an option. But there are better options, even if you’re avoiding the behemoth Star Wars: The Force Awakens.