It’s been a few years since anyone has had chipmunk fever. I don’t think many expected Fox’s 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunk movie to be much of a success, but before you know it, it’s made hundreds of millions therefore securing a sequel if not sequels. Alvin and the Chipmunks managed to not only appeal to kids but find a way to homage the original source material while making it fun for adults as well as kids.
Two years later Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 hit theaters, once again making tons of money but lost just a bit of the heart this franchise seemed to be building. Jason Lee plays our lead Dave but is virtually absent in the second film and doesn’t get to do much in the 3rd. It seems the torch continued to get passed off and while 2 was great and a big success, Fox completely lost its footing with the third film. The franchise was always silly and goofy, mixing in the right amount of adult jokes your kids wouldn’t get or I guess shouldn’t get with family values and a bit of heart. After that film you can’t help but feel the franchise relied too much on chipmunks farting rather than telling another good story that has a good message for kids that adults would appreciate their kids learning. It should also be noted that like with most studios with their sequels, the Chipettes were introduced to our favorite Chipmunk trio understandably in part 2, but it became a sloppy mess of characters for the 3rd. I guess you could call it Chipmunk overload. It took only 2 years to make the “Squeakquel” and then only 2 years after that to make a third film. I think Fox must have realized that throwing out fun dance numbers to the latest pop jams wasn’t all the movie should consist of.
Fox thankfully took there time when it comes to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Roadchip since it’s been 4 years since we’ve seen them. As a chipmunk fan I’m happy to report that I loved Road Chip! It’s by far the best sequel of the franchise and comes so very close to being on par with the first film. This time around Jason Lee finally gets enough screen time to truly be important enough to the film. It also brings back what I love most about these movies, which is its perfect blend of heart and humor! Right out of the gate Alvin is throwing a huge party and all the chipmunks and chipettes are there. The pop culture references and cameos are among the best moments. Redfoo is a guest at the party and a character asks “What’s it like being a part of the Foo Fighters?” That’s a bit of the adult humor no 7 year old would understand unless you raise your kid on Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd (you’re awesome if you do that!). In the beginning Its made clear that Dave’s music writing/producing career has taken off while working with an artist simply by the name of Ashley, and isn’t exactly spending as much time with the chipmunks as he should. The great thing out the gate is that the Chipettes get sidelined early on in the film. Six chipmunks was too much. Then they put them all on an island in the 3rd movie. It was overkill. They pop up at the start but really don’t play a factor until the end! On top of this Dave has fallen in love with a girl and invited her to spend a weekend together in Miami for Ashely’s album release party.
Since Dave won’t let the chipmunks travel and tour they feel a bit left out like their family is starting to have a rift. The chaos ensues when Miles, the teen son of the women Dave is seeing, is left to babysit them. The lines are quickly drawn in the sand when Miles and the Chipmunks don’t see eye to eye. After much chaos we find out Miles’ father wasn’t exactly around enough, leaving him with a bitter feeling towards family. They quickly realize that Dave and Shira getting married is in neither parties best interest, and the next hour of the film is just pure fun all around. The chipmunks try to sneak onto a flight and get into some turbulence when they cross an air Marshall who lets just say hates the Chipmunks and becomes our villain of the film. While he’s not my favorite “kid film” type villain he does the trick and not only do the Chipmunk and Miles have to travel by foot, bus, and car but they only have 2 days to stop Dave from proposing!
So many of the set pieces were just fun. I mean it’s not really a chipmunk movie without some musical numbers! From a Texas bar saloon musical chase scene to an uptown funk get down in New Orleans you can’t help but smile. They even randomly burst out into song and dance for no reason and you’re like, “What? There is a ‘Turn Down for What’ dance number?!” I can’t tell you how many times I laughed and rolled my eyes like, “Did I just laugh at that?”
Ultimately though not only does the film manage to find some fresh humor for a kids film (even referencing Chucky movies), it also has a really great message about family. I don’t want to say too much in case you’d like to take your family to see it, but it’s a film that reminds you that even though you have your own lives, you gotta remember your family. Some of you might think twice a year is enough, and I agree in some cases, but just remember your brothers, sisters, and where you come from. I feel kids movies have become watered down, sort of cookie cutter films. It’s rare we even get live action ones today. I miss the old school kid films filled with adult humor. It suited the chipmunks well before and it’s been around for so many generations. Road Chip was a great trip to take and redeems the 3rd movie in every way. It’s always hard to talk about a part 4 or 5 of a franchise because you either liked the others enough to care or didn’t care at all to begin with.
I think for parents, kids, and teens alike these movies are not only fun but differ from the “Child’s Play” of today. You don’t really need to see the others to have fun with this one, but to everyone who kinda rolled your eyes when this franchise rebooted in 2007, I highly recommend you maybe watch the first film and you’ll realize quickly this isn’t just a movie filled with nothing but fart jokes. I mean, yes there are fart jokes of course but there’s a great mix of fresh comedy, loveable characters, and a bit of heart. The franchise may have taken its missteps but I hope it’s not another 4 years until we see the Chipmunks again! If you can leave most of your logic at the door then I highly recommend for a fun time!
Review by Kory Davis