Love is in the air in the fourth instalment of the Alvin And The Chipmunks series... but not for long if the helium-voiced furballs get their way.
Walt Becker’s ramshackle road movie contrives a flimsy excuse for singing rodents Alvin, Simon and Theodore to want to sabotage the flourishing romance of their surrogate father.
Of course, the mischievous trio learn the error of their ways en route to a sentimental reconciliation that emphasizes the importance of family over fame with all the subtlety of a swift kick to the sternum.
Randi Mayem Singer and Adam Sztykiel’s script trades in recycled humour and repeatedly makes pointless narrative detours to allow Alvin, Simon and Theodore to perform their high energy cover versions.
Thus the chipmunks swing their hips to Gloria Estefan’s Conga at the mere mention of Miami and a detour to New Orleans provides the perfect excuse for a toe-tapping rendition of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ disco-flavoured floor filler Uptown ‘Munk during Mardi Gras.
Dave (Jason Lee) has been dating Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) for several months and decides to introduce his sweetheart to his surrogate children.
Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) should be delighted, except Samantha’s teenage son Miles (Josh Green) bullies them mercilessly when the parents’ backs are turned.
The chipmunks discover an engagement ring and realise that Dave is poised to go down on bended knee to Samantha during a business trip to Miami to promote the album of superstar Ashley Grey (Bella Thorne).
Wedding bells toll disaster - the trio will be stuck with Miles - so the chipmunks hatch a cunning plan to sabotage the proposal.
“People look out for themselves. It’s what animals do,” snarls Miles, who was abandoned at an early age by his no-good father.
He pledges support to Alvin, Simon and Theodore to prevent another man from hurting his mother.
The quartet embarks on disaster-prone misadventures from Los Angeles to Miami including a tangle with a tenacious air marshal (Tony Hale).
Meanwhile, the feisty Chipettes - Brittany (Christina Applegate), Eleanor (Kaley Cuoco) and Jeanette (Anna Faris) - begin their stint as judges on TV talent show American Idol.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip is cast in the mould of previous films, replete with bouts of chipmunk flatulence and slapstick humour.
Hale’s relentless air marshal is the butt of most of the jokes, including a face plant into a road sign during one madcap chase.
Lee is reduced to looking exasperated or proud as required.
Polished digital effects seamlessly blend the rapping rodents with exaggerated real life, including one scene at a courthouse that comes surprisingly close to genuine heart-tugging emotion.