Justin Long

Review: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

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The Pitch: Third time’s the charm. Well, it can’t be worse than the first two – can it?

The Review: Black and white. Yin and yang. Marmite lovers and haters. Just occasionally, life divides evenly into two groups or polarises perfectly. However, I would fancy that if you divided up the groups of those that actually want to watch a Chipmunks movie and those that would rather run screaming to the hills, then the latter group might have more members in than the former. Or maybe that’s expectations – or wishful thinking – on my part. But the first group can’t be too tiny as the first two films in the series have racked up $800 million dollars in worldwide box office. So there must be some good in these furry midgets, surely?

This threequel sees Dave and his squirelly charges on a cruise, where they get into various kinds of mischief, get shipwrecked, chipmunks blah blah island conflict blah mild peril blah whatever. (Editor’s note: at this point I read the last sentence to Mrs Evangelist. She instructed me to tell you, dear reader, that in between the blah and the mild peril and more blah there are two twists and some songs, although I was reluctant to mention this because they’re pretty poor and unlikely twists, and also pretty poor and unlikely songs for chipmunks to be singing.) Anyway, chipmunks blah something something meh.

I felt at this point the need to double check the internet for further research on Jason Lee, who managed to escape with just a book-ending pair of cameos in episode two while Zachary Levi took over as the lead human. But this time Lee is back for the duration, although the plot contrivances serve to separate him from his fur-covered adoptees and team him up with David Cross. My internet research failed to explain why either has returned, although it did indicate that Cross found filming Chipwrecked “the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.” But for some reason, possibly one with lots of zeroes at the end of it, Lee and Cross return again, and Jenny Slate pops up as another human in a career-ending turn of soul-crushing mediocrity, making both the other humans and the chipmunks themselves look like they’re performing Shakespeare by comparison.

What else can I tell you? There’s a repeated insistence on flouting basic laws of physics which would have been even more intolerable had this not been a film with talking chipmunks, but is still pretty irritating as it stands. The soundtrack is more flaccid than either of the first two films, with a reliance on the likes of Gaga and Beyoncé and a particularly depressing version of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem; while I wouldn’t consider myself a fan, I did find myself feeling somewhat sorry for the turgid rewarming of their popular track. The first two films have been plot driven, but we’re on the hunt for a moral here, and the fact that we just about find one keeps this from being truly dreadful. There’s one bright moment, which is when one chipmunk is bitten by a toxic spider and turns French, then being voiced by Alan Tudyk. (Seriously.) If you liked the first two, you might tolerate this one, but diminishing returns really are setting in at this point and surely no-one, even those involved, really wants a fourth entry.

Why see it at the cinema: If you want to see talking chipmunks bigger than your children and hear more squeaky Lady Gaga covers than you ever thought possible, then be my guest.

The Score: 3/10