The Chipmunks scurry onboard for another launch of their seemingly unsinkable franchise in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” which features the incorrigible singing rodents as Robinson Crusoes stranded on an uncharted island with the female Chipettes, struggling for survival and making life miserable for the long-suffering David Seville (Jason Lee). G rating, familiar characters, and the squeaky-voiced harmonizing of the principal rodents will lead to a further feathering of Fox’s nest and more furry follow-ups to what has been a largely inoffensive but equally unimaginative series.
As impressive as the CG elements are in “Chipwrecked,” they’re a mixed blessing: The more lifelike the techies make the critters — Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) — the more we’re reminded they’re rodents. And as useful as product placement can be, one has to question the wisdom of the Carnival cruise line, on which the Chipmunks and their female counterparts are traveling en route to the “Intl. Music Awards,” to advertise that vermin are running amok on their multitiered pleasure craft.
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The pest issue aside, it isn’t long before the vaguely sociopathic Alvin has wreaked havoc onboard and generated ill will, not just between himself and Dave, but also between the Chipmunks and the Chipettes — Eleanor (Amy Poehler), Jeanette (Anna Faris) and Brittany (Christina Applegate) — who were introduced in 2009’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.” His misbehavior knowing no bounds, Alvin tries riding a kite, which leads to the other chipmunks grabbing his tail and being swept offboard. In trying to save them, Dave and the boys’ longtime nemesis, Ian (David Cross), working as the ship’s pelican mascot, grab a paraglider and fly off after them. None of this impromptu aviation is very successful, and they all end up on an uncharted island, looking for food, shelter and each other.
Stranded there, too, is a treasure-hunter named Zoe (Jenny Slate), who arrived on the island eight or nine years before (she can’t remember) and has gone a bit bonkers: Her “friends” are an assortment of balls (golf, basket-, base-, foot-), all of which have names, a sendup of “Cast Away” that will have the film’s intended viewers scratching their 4-year-old heads (as will Alvin’s tuxedoed James Bond homage). Zoe is looking for hidden gold, although she doesn’t let on about it until the local volcano starts to act up, and she starts getting desperate and nasty.
Helmer Mike Mitchell (“Shrek Forever After”) doesn’t give Lee or Slate much to do, but Cross makes the most of the acerbic Ian, who is likable mostly because he seems like the kind of guy who’d set traps around the set. There isn’t much story, and there isn’t much in the way of humor, although Jeanette makes a smart comment on the characters’ “Lord of the Flies” behavior: “One day on this island and we’ve become animals!”
The psychology of the Chipmunks can be intriguing. In addition to Alvin’s evident personality disorder, Simon suffers messianic delusions and Theodore is an imbecile; the Chipettes, as per pop culture’s general misogyny and current fascination with the “Jersey Shore” aesthetic, look and act like rodent hookers. Of course, the targeted viewers of “Chipwrecked” will hardly be pondering the film’s anthropomorphic subtleties, and their parents will just be grateful for the 87-minute running time.