[Screen It]


(2015) (Jason Lee, voice of Justin Long) (PG)

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Computer-Animated/Live Action Comedy: Three talking chipmunks believe their human father is going to dump them after proposing to his girlfriend in Miami, and thus set off for there from Los Angeles in hopes of stopping the proposal.
Alvin (voice of JUSTIN LONG), Theodore (voice of JESSE McCARTNEY) and Simon (voice of MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER) are three chipmunks who live with their unofficial adoptive human father, Dave Seville (JASON LEE), in Los Angeles where he works as a record producer. He's recently been seeing Samantha (KIMBERLY WILLIAMS-PAISLEY) and the chipmunks come under the impression that he's going to propose to her on a trip to Miami. They not only fear having her bully son, Miles (JOSH GREEN), as their step-brother, but also that Dave might be done with them and kick them out.

With Miles not wanting to be related to them either, the four set off from L.A. to Miami in hopes of derailing the proposal. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps onboard their flight -- caused by the chipmunks -- brings about the ire of air marshal Agent James Suggs (TONY HALE) who decrees that the trio of rodents be placed on the do not fly list. Now grounded, they and Miles try to make their way however they can to Miami before it's too late, all with Agent Suggs in hot pursuit.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
In the world of being a movie reviewer, it's always interesting to see who shows up for what. Take this week, for example. There are two sequels coming out in franchises where the various previous entries have collectively grossed more than one billion dollars, rely heavily on special effects, cater to kids, and feature some non-human, English speaking characters.

Yet, while everyone and their brother showed up to take in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (including "critics" who I've literally never set eyes on before, and I've been reviewing movies for a long time), I believe there were only four or five of us at "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Trip."

Granted, there's a teensy, itsy-bitsy difference between the two films in terms of anticipation, pent-up desire and so on. But this reminds me of a former, not-to-be-named critic who I once heard loudly and angrily exclaim at our press screening of "The Princess Diaries 2" and that was something along the lines of "Why do I have to watch this #%&*@?" Well, bub, it's because it's your job, and it's mine, so here's the review.

Actually, there's not too much to say that hasn't already been said about the previous three entries, those being 2007's "Alvin and the Chipmunks," the 2009 sequel, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," and the follow-up two years later, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked."

All feature the talking, singing and always getting into trouble chipmunk trio of Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and one's appreciation (or not) of them, their comedy stylings and musical numbers depends on whether one loves their original Christmas song (from decades ago) and its chipmunk harmonies or if hearing that this time of year makes you cringe and want to bash whatever might be playing that.

In this latest episode, written by Randi Mayem Singer and Adam Sztykiel and directed by Walt Becker -- the three rodents discover that their unofficial dad (a returning Jason Lee) is likely going to pop the question to his girlfriend (Samantha ). While that would seem to make them happy (to have a mom), some baggage comes along with the deal, and that would be her teenage son (Josh Green) who, for reasons never explained, is a mean bully to the critters. Since neither they nor he desire to be stepbrothers, they make an uneasy alliance to thwart the proposal.

The only problem is they're in L.A. and the couple is in Miami, thus necessitating a quick flight there. Not surprisingly, things go awry and shenanigans arise on the plane, resulting in the four being grounded and federal air marshal James Suggs (Tony Hale, fully up for doing the over the top comedy villain bit) putting them on the do not fly list.

They flee, he pursues, and what follows is the road trip (sorry, road "chip") across the country, resulting in various stops along the way where the 'munks apply their unique vocal stylings to popular songs (alas, Christmas isn't in the mix). Natch, the punk kid has a change of heart and comes to like the little critters, and it's then a race against time to stop the engagement ring reveal before it's too late.

Really, really young kids might get into this (and the seemingly requisite crude humor and striking of a male crotch, among other standard such trappings), and it will probably hold their attention throughout most of the nearly 90-minute runtime. But for any parents, guardians or most anyone older than their early teens who finds themselves watching this, they'll likely have the same reaction as the aforementioned critic and wonder why they're sitting there and not taking in what's transpiring in a far away, long time ago galaxy in the theater next door. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Trip" rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed December 12, 2015 / Posted December 18, 2015

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