(Warning: contains spoilers for Road Chip!)
Almost four years ago to this day, I went to see Chipwrecked in theaters (and also journaled about it). Interestingly, I had a coupon for the Chipwrecked movie ticket that I got from a DVD I either bought or received as a gift. I remember that I got the ticket for free, and I only had to pay for the popcorn. Another fantastic detail was that I had the theater to myself: I was the only person in the theater!
Funny thing is, when I went to see Road Chip today, the same thing happened. I ended up with a “private” theater, which makes the viewing experience even better! There was no one to talk during the movie or block my view, and I had the best choice of seats. During the previews I saw a preview for The Little Prince, which I may also see in theaters when it gets released (I saw the premiere while studying abroad in Paris, so I'd be curious to watch it in English, too). Anyways, Road Chip was better than I expected, and different than expected, too.
I went into the movie blind, not knowing anything about the plot other than the basic idea that Dave would take the chipmunks on a road trip, which actually isn't what happens. While that would be a good concept for movie-I'm sure Alvin would hate being cooped up in a car for hours on end and would find every opportunity to cause trouble-that doesn’t really resemble what happens in the movie. Dave (who looks much older than he did in Chipwrecked) introduces the chipmunks to his new girlfriend Samantha and later brings home an engagement ring. The chipmunks decide they do not want Samantha and Dave to get married and set out for Miami to stop the engagement along with Miles, Samantha’s son, who doesn’t want them in the family either.
The new characters are quite likeable. I immediately liked Miles as the jerk older brother figure who eventually becomes very close with Alvin and the others. He and the chipmunks have great chemistry throughout the whole film. For the most part he didn’t take the attention off the chipmunks, which I appreciate. I was curious about what the villain would be like, since David Cross left his role as Ian Hawke (apparently he hated being in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, and it’s just as well, since his character was running out of things to do), but Air Marshal Suggs fills his shoes. While Suggs doesn't have the humorous sardonic, slimy charm of Hawke, his sometimes crazy determination makes him hilarious to watch. One particularly funny scene has him wake up in New Orleans after getting drunk and being knocked out by a trombonist while chasing the chipmunks through a jazz parade, and the band director compliments him on his tattoo. Suggs looks in the mirror and, to his horror, he has "Sugg Life" tattooed across his chest. The band director says he meant the other tattoo on Suggs’ back, a much larger one featuring Alvin, Simon and Theodore. As a twenty-two year old, I also chuckled at the flashback where his girlfriend broke up with him over his Alvin and the Chipmunks fondness, telling him to “grow up”. There are plenty of other memorable scenes with him, too. Samantha doesn't have much of a personality other than her habit of keeping her stethoscope with her all the time (which figures into the plot in a funny way when Alvin uses it to crack Dave's safe), but she also doesn't have that much screen time.
I have mixed feelings on the Chipettes’ relatively small role in the movie. Admittedly, I wouldn’t want them to tag along with Miles on the trip to Miami, since having six chipmunks would bog those scenes down. In that sense, it was best that the main three went with Miles. On the other hand, it would’ve been nice to have them figure into the plot in other ways, aside from the beginning and the end scenes, with one or two brief moments in between.
Road Chip had excellent music scenes and excellent action scenes, often combined with one another. It intertwined these two elements much better than the other Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. The pacing is generally good, with humor and action sprinkled throughout, and the plot threads connect well.
There were certainly things that could be improved. The airport staff was the most incompetent I’ve ever seen (there’s no way the TSA agent would’ve let Miles through with Alvin and Simon even after he convinced her that Alvin was a “realistic doll” and when Simon hid during the pat down, nor would Theodore would have made it through the baggage check.) The only scene I really disliked was when the chipmunks succeed in getting the engagement ring. It’s way too convenient that Alvin had it on him all along, and it means that they went through that long trip for nothing. Miles’ sudden about-face when this happened felt really out of character; I didn’t expect for him to change his mind completely about breaking up the impending engagement.
Overall, Road Chip was better than Chipwrecked, but I’m not sure how I would compare it to the first two movies. Road Chip does some things better than the first two movies (plot, pacing), and other things not as well (a little less focus on the chipmunks). In particular, Road Chip did a good job with incorporating the musical numbers into the plot, and the music scenes were extremely entertaining.