The Alvin And The Chipmunks trilogy seems to take special glee in sacrificing David Cross’ dignity. Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel found the Mr. Show co-creator rummaging around in a Dumpster, playing a disgraced record executive who pays dearly for trying to exploit the Chipmunks. The humiliation continues with Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which ropes Cross into the proceedings under the flimsiest of pretenses—he’s so washed up in the record industry, the only job he can get is as an entertainer on a cruise ship—then requires him to spend nearly the entire film in a grubby pelican costume. It is not a role overly conducive to the preservation of dignity or self-respect. Then again, what in Chipwrecked is?
Sporting a default look of weary resignation, Jason Lee returns as the caretaker of rodent superstars Alvin And The Chipmunks and their distaff counterparts, The Chipettes. Chipwrecked finds Lee escorting the Chipmunks and Chipettes to an international awards show via a luxury cruise ship, but before the gala event can occur, the musical rodents with the unbearably squeaky voices are ship-wrecked on a remote island with only a mysterious castaway (the charmingly daft Jenny Slate) for company.
On the island, Simon trades in his dreary old persona for a dashing new French alter-ego after getting bitten by a spider, and Alvin loses his rock-star mojo after his brother’s flashy new persona wows everyone, but Chipwrecked functions primarily as a bright, flashy delivery system for sped-up covers of pop hits from the past few decades, including a Chipette version of the Lady Gaga queer anthem “Born This Way.” Even by the exceedingly lenient standards of second sequels to terrible kids’ films, Chipwrecked feels particularly arbitrary and devoid of inspiration. It all but apologizes for its ridiculous, mercenary existence with a running time well under 90 minutes and rapid-fire pacing that hurries the little ones out the door as quickly as possible, so they can get on with their day. With its wall-to-wall pop covers, Chipwrecked isn’t a kids’ movie so much as a brightly animated, instantly forgettable animated feature-length advertisement for the NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilation series of contemporary pop hits.