Review: ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,’ starring Justin Long and Jason Lee

Have the careers of Justin Long and Jason Lee really come to this? Another “Alvin and the Chipmunks” sequel, devoid of any joy and life, instead maniacal and desperate and horrible? Yup, that’s where we are. With “The Road Chip,” that is exactly where we are.

In this fourth installment of the franchise, Alvin (voiced by Long, who is unrecognizable thanks to the audio distortion) and his brothers, nerdy and timid Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler), and chubby and innocent Theo (voiced by Jesse McCartney), are sidelined from the music business by their father figure Dave (Lee). Sure, they’re internationally famous singing chipmunks, but Dave just wants them to be regular kids with regular life experiences, so he bans them from performing. Because he is a jerk and a terrible dad who doesn’t know how to communicate.

Adding to his terribleness is his new relationship with heart surgeon Shira (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), a beautiful single mother of an adolescent boy, Miles (Josh Green), who despises the chipmunks. That’s basically his only character trait, but at least it’s better than Shira, who is stuck wearing a stethoscope for half the movie so you don’t forget that she’s a doctor.

But don’t worry, Dave makes sure to call her “cute,” because being a life-saving surgeon means nothing unless you have a schlubby guy who lives with three chipmunks to compliment you. (Oh, this is also a movie where two-time-Emmy-winner Uzo Aduba, the only actor in history to win the award for playing the same character in both the Drama and Comedy categories, is cast as a stereotypically short-tempered black woman working for the TSA. Because that’s the kind of diversity present in “The Road Chip,” which wants you to consider chipmunks as equal to people.)

Anyway! Alvin, Simon, and Theo think that Dave wants to propose to Shira, and if he does, that means he’ll abandon them and start a new family through biological children with Shira. So they decide, with Miles’s help, to road trip ("ROAD CHIP," GET IT?!) to Miami to stop the theoretical proposal. Along the way, they attract the ire of air marshal Benson (Tony Hale), who has a personal grudge with the chipmunks and wants to get his revenge on them.

Do you think that Simon, Alvin, and Theo end up befriending Miles, and it turns out that everything about “The Road Chip” was just one giant misunderstanding? Well then, you’re right! And since you figured out that narrative secret, it means you don’t have to sit through 90 minutes of fart and poop humor or horribly Auto-Tuned, kid-friendly renditions of “Baby Got Back” or “Uptown Funk” to learn the message of “The Road Chip,” which is literally that “families come in all shapes and sizes.” That’s it! That’s the whole message! Ugh.

Bashing your head against the wall would be more fun than “The Road Chip.” Long, Lee, and Hale have mortgages to pay, but please don’t fund them. You can spend your money in better ways. Like lighting it on fire.

Rating: 0 out of 5 Guttenbergs