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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP (Fox)
Dir. Walt Becker, Script. Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel
Cast: Justin Long, Mathew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney
Plot: There are some chipmunks. They sing. The rest is pointless.
Sometimes, to truly love cinema, you must face struggles. Struggles do not come much more potently and strongly as the fourth instalment in the Alvin & The Chipmunks franchise, a series of movies that seem only to exist in order to annoy me. They are the sum of everything I despise in cinema – the concept of a ‘kids’ movie, lazy plotting, lazy comedy and most importantly, annoying high voices. So, for Valentine’s Day, I made the ultimate sacrifice and paid money to watch this thing.
So here we go: I know what you’re expecting, so lets just get that answered now. The Road Chip, the (and I kow its hard to believe) FOURTH instalment in this incessant ‘franchise’, is actually not as bad as it could have been. Then again, I don’t want to think about how bad it could have been, because that would be an apocalyptic event, a meteorite to the very heart of cinema. But I digress: it was probably the smallest mercy of my life thus far, but this film was actually very slightly tolerable. I don’t think it’s the worst in the series, and at times I suppose I was able to consider that there was a worthwhile future for me on this Earth.
Right, end of praise. This movie is completely terrible, a massive waste of money and ‘talent’. It’s sole existence, to my view, is to keep on selling toys to 8 year olds and under. The plot is negligible – so much so that its opening sequence (I would call it a ‘prologue’ if it had any narrative integrity whatsoever) acts as a backdoor music video for (I shit you not) REDFOO, who is apparently STILL A THING, who gets to drop his song (I shit you not again) ‘Juicy Wiggle’ on an unsuspecting paying public. The very fact that this was allowed to happen is sort of deplorable.
The ‘plot’ mainly revolves around a series of seizure-inducing musical numbers which invoke an off-Broadway production of High School Musical with a cast and crew all addicted to ketamine. When my eyes weren’t being assaulted, I was invited by director Walt Becker (who Fox must have some prime dirt on to get him to direct this) to consider the plight of our three chipmunk protagonists as they fear abandonment from adopted father Dave (Jason Lee, the 5p plastic bag of actors) – when they find out that Dave is proposing to a new girlfriend in Miami, the Chipmunks must journey cross-country to stop it. Never before have I been asked to follow three anthropomorphic arseholes as they attempt to stop the passage of love.
Voicing the hamster harbingers of doom are Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, but put through a helium balloon as per usual. Needless to say that the effect is remarkably difficult to stomach, but that’s not the fault of the three actors, who can only really be described as saying what’s on the script. The fact that they end up being as annoying as they are is fully down to the writing, which is targeting children I know, but lacks anything for anybody else to find in there – this is most definitely kid-oriented, but in a time where Pixar Animation have produced masterpieces that are targeted just as much for kids as they are for children, I don’t feel like that’s an excuse for bad writing.
Randi Mayem Singer writes something that almost resists criticism as its so impenetrably stupid. While the slapstick lands as, let’s face it, it really should, once the Chipmunks actually attempt to say something funny it falls flatter than a poorly flipped pancake onto the kitchen floor. I can safely say that I didn’t laugh once during The Road Chip. Not at any moment. I did laugh when I found out 20th Century Fox found a way to spend $90m on this though. But even then that laugh was kind of bitter, a bit like when you find out the person who rejected you has a new partner but they’re colossally wrong for them. It’s almost frightening to think how this movie cost $90m; I genuinely don’t understand where the money could have possibly been invested.
To summarise, while The Road Chip may not be the worst instalment in this never-ending singing chipmunk saga, the fact that it’s slightly better than Chipwrecked should not be considered a reason to put yourself through this. If I was to give this picture any minor praise, I would say that if you have young kids, this will provide a suitable diversion for them and give you some peace for the mercifully compact 92 minute running time. But if you value your sanity, I suggest giving this one a miss. The question really is though…do I still love this movie because it was made? Am I a true lover of all movies? Well…who said love didn’t come with hardship?