For those who haven't stayed loyal followers of Kevin Smith -- the uber-fans who listen to every SModcast and are willing to shell out hundreds of bucks for merch and tickets to lengthy Q&A sessions -- it's a common complaint that the man simply lost the plot. Although the artist formally known as Silent Bob doesn't have anything at all to do with Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the third film in the box-office behemoth of a series finds his onetime collaborator Jason Lee returning to the part of Dave Seville, the manager of a trio of singing rodents. In Smith's films, Lee was a live wire, an articulate slacker capable of speaking the truth when nobody else would. His rogue charm made him an ideal voice for Smith's harshest pronouncements about people and pop culture. That Jason Lee is nowhere to be found in Chipwrecked.
This time out, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore go on a cruise with Dave and the Chipettes. Troublemaker Alvin ends up flying away in a kite, which leads to the whole gang being stranded on an island populated only by a wacky treasure hunter (Jenny Slate). Soon, Alvin learns he has to be the responsible one, and he does a little growing up while Dave and their nemesis Ian (David Cross) hunt for the six missing 'munks.
If one word comes to mind to describe Chipwrecked, it's lazy. There are barely any jokes, just pop-culture references that are sometimes 20 years out of date. The songs are shoehorned in because the Chipmunks are supposed to sing -- a campfire rendition of "Kumbaya" is simultaneously the high and low point by virtue of its ridiculousness. On top of all that, the premise of the story itself is faulty, because hasn't Alvin had to learn to be less of an unrepentant jerk in each of the previous movies? Seriously, you start to wonder why Dave doesn't just release Alvin into the wild and coast on the nostalgia-driven record sales for the rest of his life. The movie knows you're thinking this because David Cross' character expresses this exact sentiment, and Dave unconvincingly announces that he simply loves those furry meal tickets.
Chipwrecked is a deadening experience; it's a movie made just because people would pay to see the characters and listen to the high-pitched singing shtick yet again. Kevin Smith might be an underachiever, but he hasn't mutated completely and fully from where he started. Jason Lee has turned himself into the blandest possible commodity, making him the perfect human face for a series of films this cynically commercial.