Ah, the lives of world-renowned music stars. The Chipmunks are so beloved that the International Music Awards begs for a live performance from the guys and their singing sister counterparts, The Chipettes. So Dave and the gang decide to leave early and make a vacation out of the trip—on a ship. Dave figures he’ll get plenty of time to relax and sit in the sun. That’s the plan, anyway.
Silly old Dave.
He ought to know by now that Alvin never does things as planned. When he’s told to stay in the ship’s cabin, he’s the first one out shaking his tail fur at the onboard nightclub. If he’s supposed to be playing a safe and staid game on the deck, he’ll soon be hanging from a kite soaring 100 feet off the port bow. Cue the rest of the chipmunks to get dragged into his shenanigans.
Literally, in this case. You see, that kite pulls all the chipmunk siblings overboard and leaves them stranded at sea. On a deserted tropical island. Very, very far away from the awards show. They’re not worried a bit, though. Surely Dave’ll come to their rescue.
But then … who’s gonna rescue Dave?
Even though Dave’s adopted “kid-munks” are only several inches tall and covered in fur, he approaches his very large parental responsibilities with his whole heart. It’s obvious that he’s totally dedicated to his charges. An example: When the chips are dragged off the ship, he immediately jumps in to save them, putting himself at risk in the process. And when young Theodore gives him an embarrassingly ugly necklace made out of plastic bits and colored macaroni noodles, he shows his love for his “son” by wearing it to even the fanciest of functions.
He also makes it quite clear that he’s not managing The Chipmunks for the cash the band collects. “You think I’m in this for the money?” Dave sputters at one point. “I’m doing this because I love them!”
Early on, Dave worries that Alvin may never outgrow his feckless behavior. But the responsible Simon compares Alvin to a spirited racehorse and suggests that Dave loosen the reins a bit. “Sometimes kids will rise to the occasion if you just show them a little trust,” he tells Dave. Dave gives it a go—to no avail … at first. But when Simon is bitten by a spider and takes on a more reckless persona himself, Alvin is the one who decides it’s time to step up and take responsibility. He regrets driving Dave so crazy with his foolish choices. And he and Chipette Brittany build a shelter and take charge in building a rescue raft.
Dave and several of the chipmunks brave danger to save others. Even old nemesis Ian tries to convince someone to do the right thing.
After building a fire on the island, the chipmunks all hold hands and sing, “Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya.”
The Chipettes find themselves drawn into a dance-off with three human girls that results in some light tail- and hip-wagging sensuality. Onboard the cruise ship, men and women are seen sunbathing in one-piece swimsuits and bikinis. The Chipettes make little bikini-like outfits for themselves out of flower petals. Also stranded on the island, Zoe regularly exposes her midriff. She dances while soaked by the rain.
All of the bumps and bonks are of the comedic, pratfalling kind. Generally, Dave and Ian are the main recipients. Here’s a picture of it: Alvin pours suntan oil on the ship’s deck and, of course, Dave walks along, slips and sprawls. He’s also repeatedly thumped in the noggin with one thing or another.
Other owies include Simon burning his foot while trying to light a fire with his glasses lens. He gets whacked in the head with a golf ball. Zoe threateningly holds Chipette Eleanor up to a burning torch. Dave hangs perilously from a rickety old log suspended across a deep gorge.
Several uses of “gosh.” Alvin says, “I’m such a pain in the …” but leaves the phrase hanging.
People down mixed drinks on the ship.
While fighting over a mango with the other hungry chipmunks, Alvin runs full-on into a tree and squeaks out, “My acorns!” After one particular scary moment, a chipmunk exclaims, “Good thing we don’t wear pants.” We see Ian dressed in a Pelican mascot outfit that he says he can’t remove because he’s not wearing anything underneath.
Intended as humor, Alvin spits out, “You mess wit me, esse, I go loco on you.”
While skirting lyrical negatives by applying the verses to rodent life—The Chipmunks give a nod to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry by way of a mash-up of their songs “Born This Way” and “Firework.” (The soundtrack itself can’t be taken quite so lightly, though. Read our review here.) People gamble in the ship’s nightclub. Alvin sets up a monster flick on TV that scares Theodore out of his wits.
Remember the old Elvis flicks and Frankie Avalon beach pics from way back when? They were formulaic and interchangeable, usually a combination of silly little tales, pretty leads and a bunch of story breaks just longing to be filled with a hip-shaking, hair-flipping song. Nothing to tax your brain, certainly, but generally nothing to fret too much over either. Not too many filmmakers are clamoring to try to fill the cinematic void left by the expiration of such fantasies, of course. But it’s exactly the slot the Chipmunks movies have stepped up to occupy.
If anything, with the exception of a reclaimed Lady Gaga song or a largely unintelligible rendition of a rap track, this third chipmunky release is the cutest and most harmless one yet. And while its marketers might not have noticed that fact, launching a “Munk Yourself” campaign in trailers and online, the MPAA raters did, giving the scampering caper a G instead of the PG assigned to the previous two installments. Its positive parts include a nice pro-family vibe that smiles at dependable parents and lovable kids. And there’s a nod to growing up and being responsible that even the mischievous Alvin takes part in.
Best of all, possibly, is something that’s not included: the chipmunk poop jokes are left back in the cage at home.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.