Review – Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015)

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alvin-and-the-chipmunks-4-566d2958e492bALVIN! Don’t get me wrong, I’m as perplexed as you are as to why they’re still making these movies, but I’ve seen them all. I like this series to a fault. I know the last one was mostly just plain awful, so I never really anticipated Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip would just magically be any better, but it is…only by a small margin. It has one fatal flaw. I feel like they were compensating for having too much singing in the third one by making them barely sing at all in this one, and I don’t think that helped out much. Who knows, though. Let’s get right into it.

Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother. Written by 20th Century Fox (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★★

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★☆
    • Up first is acting, and given that this is the fourth film in a franchise that not a ton of people are asking for, it’s not hard to see that the acting here is mediocre at best…but I think the same can be said for all the other films as well. It’s a family film in which they care more about physical humor, some music, and morals to stories – not unimportant things like “acting”, come on, now folks! Haha, one star.
  2.  Characters: ★★
    • One thing we, as adults, can relate to kids with – is our need for good, memorable characters. It’s just ingrained in our psyche. We need good characters for films to thrive and continue on, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip has that.  You have the chipmunks, obviously, but there’s also Dave, Dave’s new girlfriend and her son, and the flight marshal. The only person that was extremely flat and redundant was the girlfriend, but everyone else actually was pretty memorable. Two stars.
  3. Good Casting: ★★
    • Now, this one’s confusing as heck for me. The question is if anyone else could play the roles, and for animated chipmunks with super high pitch voices…I’m pretty sure other people can play them just fine, which means there’s no right or wrong choice for them. So I think that’s a strange loophole that makes this subcategory perfect because I always like the actor for Dave, and even the girlfriend’s son was memorable in his own right. Two stars.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • Importance also plays a part in that big weird loophole. I wouldn’t say the chipmunks have individual goals or reasons to be there – but for the most part, they sing together, the play together, and as a trio, they have a goal for the film. So as a unit, they count. After that, you have reasons for everyone else in the movie, again, not for the girlfriend, haha. It almost seems sexist… Two stars.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • Along with characters, another important quality to have in kids films is chemistry. You can’t much care for the characters if they don’t really have chemistry, and who better to have loads of chemistry but three cute chipmunks that can sing? This may be true for any of the movies, but the same does apply here. They have some pretty believable and relatable chemistry with Dave, with that son, and the flight marshal. So for this, I give that two stars.

WRITING
★★★

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just a bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★☆
    • Nothing’s really that special or even unique about the dialogue here. It’s typical family film comedy and limited drama/emotional bits. It’s really nothing more than that. It’s not terrible, just boring typical stuff. One star.
  2.  Good Balance: ★☆
    • I would say two stars since that’s not hard to understand with films like this…but it has some convoluted stuff, too. As much as I like the idea of the flight marshal, I think he was over-utilized in an attempt to provide the film with a “bad guy”. This is often a problem with kid movies. They need a bad guy, and they really should have left him for the plane scene, and that’s it.
  3.  Good Story: ★☆
    • Somewhere deep down, there is certainly a good story about being a family, what that means, and if Dave is really their adoptive father or just some human that has a few pets. That part is wonderful. The road trip itself is an attempt to break up Dave and his girlfriend so they don’t have to be siblings with the human brat. That part was actually only useful for comedic reasons. The real story about the family is way too drowned out if you ask me. One star.
  4.  Originality: ☆☆
    • Oh, is the movie about a bunch of kids going on a road trip original? Not really, the idea of incorporating that into a chipmunks film is slightly interesting, but there’s nothing even remotely original about this. Zero stars.
  5.  Interesting: ★☆
    • Like I said about the road trip aspect, I think that’s an interesting take for the chipmunks movies, and it might’ve helped improve it as a whole. Other than that, not much more was interesting. One star.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★☆
    • For an animated film with a good amount of CGI, the visuals were really just so-so. Sure enough, the chipmunks looked nice and all, but the rest of the movie doesn’t really look spectacular or anything. It’s colorful enough for the kids, but that’s really all it does. One star.
  2.  Directing: ★☆
    • The directing was neither bad nor good. Anyone could have directed this with the outcome turning out exactly the same. One star.
  3.  Editing: ★☆
    • The same can be said about the editing as the directing. Anyone could have edited it to have the same outcome. This is really basic stuff. One star.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • Really quickly here, the advertising wasn’t false nor told too much, in my opinion. So I’ll just give it two stars and move on.
  5.  Music: ☆☆
    • Here’s the biggest problem it has – music. These are Alvin and the Chipmunks! They are a trio of singing superstars! Yet, they sing like maybe three times in this movie, and most of the songs sung by either them or used as background music weren’t the best choices. The other movies definitely excelled in this department. Zero stars.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • In the introduction, we learn all the basics. Where Dave is in his career, how the chipmunks are holding up, even the Chipettes are heading to Hollywood to judge on American Idol. We meet Dave’s girlfriend and her son. Everything checks out.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • The inciting incident is when the chipmunks discover an engagement ring in a bag Dave brings up, leading them to believe he is going to propose to his girlfriend, which they can’t have because they hate her son. So the crossing of the threshold comes when they make a plan with the son to take the titled road trip to stop the engagement. Everything checks out.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • This is mostly where the flight marshal comes into play – he is constantly the chipmunk’s repetitive obstacle. He was completely unnecessary after the first obstacle…however, he did supply the film with enough obstacles to warrant a clean checklist. Two more stars.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★☆
    • I won’t go too much into spoiler territory, but I will tell you there is a clear epiphany and a very anticlimactic climax. So no spoilers, this is one star.
  5.  Falling Action: ★☆
    • Nothing much to say here, because I don’t want to spoil too much. We’ll just say there wasn’t much focus on the falling action, and the climax obviously directly affected it. For this subcategory is one star.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
☆☆

Here’s something most critics overlook because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ☆☆
    • No, thanks.
  2.  Fun: ★☆
    • It does have some fun things going on near the beginning of the movie, but it evaporates faster than a puddle in the desert. One star.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ☆
    • No, thanks.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ☆☆
    • Nahh.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ☆☆
    • Not in the slightest.

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

KIDS/FAMILY
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

Here is the first specialty category question – how well does this work as a kids or family feature? Is it more about kids, or can adults enjoy watching it as well? Well, for the most part, this is a clear family film that has moments here and there that parents can enjoy watching if their kids insist on watching it. That’s all it really needs to do for this category to have the full ten stars. Check!

MORAL TO THE STORY
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

As I’ve mentioned above, there is a moral to the story – it has to do with what family means, and how blood doesn’t necessarily mean family. It has to do with legal things like adoption as a sign of showing you care. There is truly some great elements to this story. I wish they were more obvious than it is, but I still can’t ignore the fact that its there. 10 stars.

HUMOR
★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

Next up is if this is funny. Good question. Now, the film may have elements that parents can appreciate, but for the most part, that’s not the comedy.  The comedy is purely physical humor, which’ll go over well for the kids in the audience, but you may have a harder time finding adults which will have the same reactions. The adults would be more likely to enjoy experiencing their children laughing. Five stars.

SEQUEL
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

Next up, we have the question on if this fits in with the universe of the franchise. Does this make a good sequel, do they add anything, etc. Yes, this was a good sequel, it improved on a few things from the last movie, and it definitely added some things (the girlfriend and her son) as well as the weird direction of having the chipmunks barely ever sing. So yeah, everything checks out here. 10 stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

The last question comes down to if this was halfway decent. Yes and no. I truly do believe it had a few improvements over the last installment, but it also failed miserably in others. It was a little convoluted when it comes to the flight marshal, and it needed more music…it’s the chipmunks. You can’t have it without music. I mean, you thought a good alternative to chipmunks singing was just using the normal songs. Terrible, terrible decision, and against everything these characters are about in my opinion. So yes it was fine in parts, but not in others. Five stars.

RATING: 67/100

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