A mix of classic Chipmunk elements
Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother – in Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip.
The new film is a mix of classic Chipmunk elements – including mischievous humor and heartwarming moments – that fans love about the franchise.
In 2007, Alvin And The Chipmunks, a global phenomenon to generations of fans, became a live action/CGI motion picture event with a contemporary comic sensibility. In the holiday season blockbuster, which grossed over $350 million worldwide, songwriter Dave Seville transformed singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore into pop sensations — while the out-of-control trio laid waste to Dave’s home, wreaked havoc on his career, and turned Dave’s once-orderly life upside-down.
Before you could say, “Alvinnnnn!!!” talks began about a new Alvin And The Chipmunks movie. Not content to rest on their laurels, the ‘Munks came up with yet another “first”: a “Squeakquel,” in which Alvin, Simon and Theodore finally meet their match – and maybe more – in the newly arrived female trio, The Chipettes. Released in 2009, Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel grossed over $440 million worldwide.
Two years later, the Munks unleashed Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, in which the vacationing Chipmunks and Chipettes turn a luxury cruise liner into their personal playground, until they become ‘chipwrecked’ on a remote island. As the ‘Munks and Chipettes scheme to find their way home, they accidentally discover their new turf is not as deserted as it seems. Chipwrecked came ashore with over $340 million globally.
Now, it’s time for the boys to hit the road in their biggest journey yet, as they embark on a “road chip” across the U.S. During their storied misadventures, Alvin, Simon and Theodore have always had to solve problems … they’ve created themselves! But during their road chip, and for the first time, they’re on a mission to keep their family together.
These are the Chipmunks you know and love: Alvin, who’s charming and musical with boundless enthusiasm and animal magnetism; Simon, whose I.Q. is just north of Einstein’s; and Theodore, who’s shy, good-natured, loving and sensitive.
But in Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip, the ‘Munks have evolved from their previous cinema adventures. Says director Walt Becker (“Wild Dogs”): “The Chipmunks have grown up a little because this film is about finding your way and getting out on your own. We set out to make a movie that adults and kids would enjoy.”
Becker credits producers Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman, who created the characters and are custodians of the Chipmunks legacy, with helping him and screenwriters Randi Mayem Singer and Adam Sztykiel find a new path for Alvin & Co. “Ross and Janice gave me a thorough history lesson and personality profiles on the Chipmunks,” the director recalls. “But they also encouraged me to take the characters in a slightly different space and give the film a different tone from the others.
“So The Road Chip feels a little different from the previous three films,” he continues. “We really tried to ‘broaden the net.’”
Becker did ensure that a key presence in all the ALVIN films — Jason Lee, as Dave Seville – was back for The Road Chip. “It was important to bring back Jason because not only is he terrific in the Alvin And The Chipmunks movies, his presence helps gives this film a strong emotional connection.”
Lee calls this connection to the story’s characters and its myriad fans, the “Dave Factor.” He says, “It’s amazing when I’m with my kids, and their friends will come up to me and ask, ‘Are you Dave?’ And they’re super-smiley. That’s worth so much to me.”
In Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip, Dave’s career as a musical artist manager has taken off, thanks to the Chipmunks. He also has an exciting new client – a rising young pop star, named Ashley, played by actress/singer/author/model Bella Thorne (“My Own Worst Enemy,” “Shake It Up”). Despite her popularity, Ashley has remained “sweet and down to earth,” says Thorne. For example, she notes, “When we meet Ashley, she’s being stormed by paparazzi, but she makes sure that the ‘Munks aren’t trampled.” Ashley also provides emotional and musical support to the ‘Munks when they reunite with Dave in Florida.
While Dave is busier than ever, he has opted to temporarily sideline the boys, so they can live as “normal” a life as possible. “Dave is bit more comfortable with the idea of everything being as normal as possible,” says Lee. Dave is also becoming more of a parent to the boys, a big step forward from serving as their beleaguered guardian. “The parenting moments are important to the evolution of this franchise,” notes Becker.
But in the Seville/Chipmunks household, striving for normalcy, and actually achieving it are, well, a continuing challenge. The boys miss their status as pop star icons and aren’t shy about letting Dave know about it. Moreover, Dave’s frustration with his young charges continues to bedevil him, and fans will rejoice that his signature manifestation of said frustration – a full-throttle bellowing of “Alviiiiin!!!” – will again tax Dave, as well as the Dolby-ized sound system of your local theater. “That yell is just kind of second nature, now,” says Jason Lee, “for me and for Dave.”
Dave’s life takes an additional turn, thanks to Samantha (she prefers “Sam”), an ER doctor (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) with whom he’s enjoying a blossoming romantic relationship. In fact, Dave and Sam are growing so close that the ‘Munks are beginning to wonder if he’s about to pop the question.
The idea of Dave tying the knot doesn’t thrill the boys; in fact, they fear it’ll uproot their lives – and maybe uproot them from Dave’s home! Further complicating matters is Sam’s teenage son, Miles (Josh Green), who has an instant dislike of the Chipmunks, who feel the same way about Miles.
The ‘Munks quickly learn that Miles is going to be a tough adversary because he can out-Alvin, Alvin. “Miles is almost like Alvin on steroids,” says Becker. “He’s as mischievous as Alvin, but one step ahead of him. Miles is a great foil for the Chipmunks.”
“Miles is definitely introduced as the classic teenage ‘bad boy,’” says Josh Green. “I also like comparing him to Alvin. Both cause trouble and are loud and harsh.
“Everyone has a little Alvin in them,” he continues. “You know, that voice inside that says, let’s go out there and cause a ruckus.”
Unfortunately for the Chipmunks, Dave is oblivious to Miles’ taunting of them. “Dave thinks Miles is a sweet kid,” says Lee. “He’s yet to discover that Miles has that Alvin type of teenaged angst, but in human form.”
In the midst of their hostilities, if not all-out war, The Chipmunks and Miles learn they do have one common goal: stop Dave’s wedding to Sam. The ‘Munks are afraid their family will change forever if Dave gets married and, worse, Miles becomes their stepbrother. Miles, says Green “is also not okay with Dave and Sam’s plan of, ‘Let’s get this family together, and we’ll all be happy now.’”
In a pact that recalls the expression, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ the Chipmunks and Miles reluctantly join forces to travel cross-country, to Florida, and try and break up what they believe will be Dave’s marriage proposal to Sam.
It’s a journey filled with adventure, laughs, music and lots of local color. But Becker also notes that it’s also about Alvin, Simon, Theodore and Miles finding their way into a kind of blended family. He further points to the film’s new blended family elements as an entryway to this new chapter in the Chipmunks’ lives. It’s no longer just the three boys and Dave Seville. Two new characters – a love interest for Dave, and her teenage son – enter the scene, and turn the ‘Munks’ life and family topsy-turvy.
“I think the idea of a blended family is one that many people can relate to,” says Becker. “The Chipmunks are always trying to do the right thing, but end up doing it in the wrong way. You can mine a lot of comedy from those family experiences.”
There’s also a lot of humor mined from the guys’ cross-country odyssey. It begins when Miles smuggles the ‘Munks aboard a flight, where everything goes wrong. In flight, they meet a new foe – a TSA Agent named Suggs, played by recent Emmy® winner Tony Hale (“Veep”).
Suggs held a grudge against the Chipmunks even before meeting them, due to his being traumatized years earlier when his girlfriend broke up with him while he was playing one of the boys’ records. Now, aboard the fateful flight to Florida, the ‘Munks are there to bedevil Suggs in-person. Step one: Theodore lets a monkey out of her crate aboard the plane; step two: the newly freed monkey unlocks the crates holding the other animals; step three: havoc ensues. “I think we covered a good portion of the animal kingdom coming out of the plane,” jokes Becker.
The animals-run-wild incident tarnishes the perfect record of the TSA agent aboard the flight: Suggs. Says Tony Hale: “When the Chipmunks turn the plane into a petting zoo, it’s a huge blemish on Suggs’ career, and he’s ticked off!”
Hale appreciated the opportunity to tackle a different kind of role in Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip. He explains: “I’m usually the guy, in ‘Veep’ or ‘Arrested Development,’ for example, who takes the abuse. Well, Suggs takes the abuse, but he keeps on fighting and never stops trying to take down the Chipmunks. It’s a lot of fun playing the villain.”
Kicked off the plane, and with Suggs in hot pursuit, the Chipmunks and Miles embark on their road trip…er…”chip,” which gives them the chance to visit – and create even more mischief in – different cultures across the U.S.
“The opportunity to experience new locations through the Chipmunks’ eyes is very compelling,” notes Becker. Additionally, “Everybody remembers family trips, which can be equal parts adventures and tortuous experiences, so that’s very relatable.”
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip shakes things up, musically. Each stop on the ‘Munks’ and Miles’ quest has its own special character and different musical influence – from modern, hip-hop/country vibe of an Austin, Texas bar to the great jazz, blues and funk of New Orleans, and finally to the Latin flair of Miami.
Continuing a soundtrack tradition for the series, Alvin and the Chipmunks put their own delightful new spin on smashes including “Uptown Funk,” “Turn Down For What,” and more. In addition, Redfoo and the boys trade verses on “Juicy Wiggle (Munk Remix).” The soundtrack also features Sheppard’s platinum-certified international hit “Geronimo” and The Score’s “Oh My Love.”