"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip"
Starring Jason Lee, Kimberly Wililams-Paisley and Josh Green
One-and-a-half out of five stars
There are, believe it or not, two movies other than "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are opening nationwide this weekend. One is the latest in a somewhat reliable comedy franchise, and the other features two stellar comedy talents.
We’ll start with the franchise entry: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip." For most adults, this franchise has been painful to watch. But this isn’t about adults -- it’s about the children, and children love the bad writing, the bad jokes and the bad music. Count me in as somebody who, as a child, loved the cartoon. If you’re lucky, though, you eventually grow up, own a home and realize that real chipmunks are a massively annoying pain in the butt. Animated chipmunks in a live action franchise? Even more so.
"The Road Chip" sees Dave (Jason Lee) courting a heart surgeon named Shira (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) who has a teenage son named Miles (Josh Green). Dave and Shira leave Miles with Alvin, Simon and Theodore in the hopes their “kids” will get along. No such luck. Miles immediately starts to torture the chipmunks in such a way that, in real life, he’d be arrested for animal cruelty. Did I just compare this movie to real life? OK -- review ends here. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" is terrible for adults, and exposing your kids to this money-grab will not make them any smarter.
Three out of five stars
Now on to something far better -- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. While it’s impossible to underplay their contributions to women in comedy in particular, I prefer to think of them as two of the funniest people on the planet, period. They’re unbelievably talented gifts to comedy. Which is why I’m so bothered by just how mediocre "Sisters" is.
As the title suggests, Fey and Poehler play siblings. The former’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants hair stylist and single mom to a teenage daughter, while the latter’s a responsible, logical and organized single nurse. When their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) decide to sell their childhood home in Florida, Fey and Poehler’s characters decide to throw one last epic party that involves many of their high school friends, and a hilarious drug dealer played by John Cena. Much like he did in "Trainwreck," Cena steals scenes from some of the funniest people in the business. The party isn’t even as funny as it could’ve been but it has its moments, thanks to various former and current "Saturday Night Live" cast members like Rachel Dratch and Bobby Moynihan, and "Daily Show" alum Samantha Bee.
What becomes almost immediately apparent, however, is the type of character Fey plays doesn’t play to her strengths. It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow because she’s so gifted, but she’s spinning her wheels here. Poehler, on the other hand, is the more versatile performer and gets most of the laughs. In fairness to Fey, she’s at her best in this movie when she’s acting in dramatic scenes requiring her to emotionally connect as a sister and a mother.
Of course, I hope Fey and Poehler make more movies together. Even the best comedians miss the mark sometimes, and while "Sisters" isn’t a bomb, it is a bit of a disappointment.