The singing, helium-voiced chipmunks are all at sea in Mike Mitchell’s zany sequel and so too is the script for this third instalment in the inoffensive series.
Writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger borrow one subplot from the Tom Hanks film Cast Away by stranding a character on a desert island, then have them combat loneliness by drawing faces on sports balls and address the inanimate objects as living, breathing friends.
Hanks earned an Oscar nomination for his emotionally wrought performance.
It’s doubtful that Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will be nominated for any glittering prizes, although the unfathomable success of previous films at the box office will doubtless continue here.
Mitchell crams his film with musical sequences set to some of the biggest dance floor hits of the past 12 months including Florida’s Club Can’t Handle Me featuring David Guetta, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and Katy Perry’s Firework.
Even if the target audience loses interest in the scrappy storyline, boys and girls will be able to sing along with Alvin and co.
What a treat for parents.
Dave (Jason Lee) heads off on a luxury cruise with singing critters Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and the feisty Chipettes - Britney (Christina Applegate), Eleanor (Amy Poehler) and Jeanette (Anna Faris).
As usual, Alvin gets into various scrapes, incurring the wrath of the ship’s captain and former manager Ian (David Cross), who works as the onboard pelican-suited entertainer.
While Dave takes a nap, Alvin and the gang take flight on a kite and are blown onto a tropical island with an active volcano.
There, they meet DHL worker Zoe (Jenny Slate), who has lost her sanity.
While the chipmunks return to nature, Dave and Ian race against time to rescue the animals from their new home before it is covered in molten lava.
Dave blames himself for their predicament but in a rare moment of lucidity, Ian offers some soothing words.
“Hate, anger, regret - they’re not just the members of a girl group I once signed,” he counsels.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked lacks the charm and energy of the earlier films and stranding the animals on an island is a flimsy contrivance to force Alvin to grow up.
The digitally rendered critters warble at regular intervals to stave off our boredom and the Chipettes have their moment in the spotlight when they challenge three feisty femmes to a dance-off in the ship’s disco.
Lee is reduced to screaming Alvin’s name at full volume whenever the titular chipmunk gets into trouble, while the two scriptwriters casually mix pop culture references with the obligatory toilet humour.
“Time to turn punishment into funishment,” lamely quips Alvin at one point.
His film stumbles aimlessly somewhere between the two.
By Damon Smith
:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10
Released: December 16 (UK & Ireland), 87 mins