Review in a Hurry: Alvin and his Chipmunk brethren (and sister Chipettes) are back and he's still up to no good, this time landing them on a marooned island full only of a few surprises and even fewer jokes. But boy will it make you want to rewatch Cast Away and revisit the internet's greatest hits!
The Bigger Picture: After two so-so showings at the box office, the most famous trio of musical rodents are back on the big screen, and this time they've got the entire internet to parody, as well as every stranded-on-an-island movie listed on IMDb. But even with a wealth of material, the movie is more groan-worthy than giggle-inducing.
Dave (Jason Lee), the do-good surrogate dad of the pack of 'munks, decides to bring the whole crew on a vacation before they must head off to perform at the International Music Awards. His escape of choice? A cruise (which should be the first red flag the movie is going south, and fast).
Alvin (voiced by Justin Long) quickly creates chaos onboard, sparking a vicious father-son circle of "Trust me, I'm an adult!" and "Show me you're an adult and then I'll trust you!" But all that goes overboard when Alvin—in a not-so-tragic "parasailing" accident—literally goes overboard with Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and the girls in tow.
They land on an island where more chaos (obviously) ensures: Simon is bitten by a spider that leaves him thinking he's a French adventurer/playboy, a human strandee (played by Jenny Slate and who had arrived via a crashed cargo plane years ago) alternates between talking to her collection of sports ball friends (à la Cast Away) and scheming for treasure, and the whole time the Chipmunks are just hoping that Dave is looking for them (which, of course he is, accompanied by Squeakquel villain David Cross).
The Chipettes play a lesser role in this installment: Jeanette (Anna Faris) scores the most screen time being wooed by the infected Simon (newly renamed Simone), while Brittany (Christina Applegate) alternates between dolling out advice to Alvin and fighting him for control of the island. As for Eleanor (Amy Poehler)? Well, she mostly just wines about being hungry...and is adorable about it.
The gals do get a moment to "shine" when they're involved in a cruise dance-off with some Jersey Shore-esque hoochies, but by the end everyone seems like the loser. And that's probably a high point when it comes to the musical moments, which are intermixed throughout the movie in the form of a couple lines from a Top 40 hit here and there (with a preference for Lady Gaga tunes shared by the whole Chip-family).
Beyond the many references to Tom Hanks' flick and current playlists, the movie strives to be hip by playing on a handful of once popular YouTube hits. There's a throwaway reference to the double rainbow dude and a whole scene centered around the honey badger clip, unfortunately (or fortunately so) most children won't understand that the honey badger "doesn't give a s--t."
The funniest part of the movie happens during a far (far!) less violent Lord of the Flies-like fight between the Chipmunks that ends with Eleanor declaring a prized mango "her precious" Lord of the Rings style.
Lucky for you, you can see that in the trailer and don't have to sit through an hour of the movie to get to it.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Nostalgia for the glory days of Alvin and the Chipmunks might compel you enough to sit through the movie, or just how dang adorable Eleanor and Theodore are.