It's easy to ask yourself why these forgettable Chipmunk movies keep happening, but the answer is simple: money. The first two made more than $210 million at the box office, and the third one still managed to break $130 million. So this fourth installment will undoubtedly be profitable, too, even if it's far from the kind of film families want to see over and over again. The one big improvement this time around is that the Chipettes aren't in it as much, so there's no cringe-inducing romantic tension except for a couple of throwaway lines when the Chipmunks are all together. The fact that the Chipettes are bigger artists with more fame (they're the ones judging American Idol) is a clever way to have them in the story, but in a tangential way.
What continues to baffle is that, after all these years, poor Dave still trusts his three Chipmunks when they've repeatedly broken his trust and acted irresponsibly. And it's still really odd that well-known actors would voice parts in which their voices are unrecognizable. Why not just leave it to professional voice actors to voice the Chipmunks if no one can tell who's who? (Perhaps "money" is the answer to that question, too?) There are a couple of funny moments, usually courtesy of Hale's misguided air marshal, who becomes obsessed with punishing the Chipmunks for ruining his stellar career. But Hale, a multiple award winner for his role on Veep, is far too talented to be wasting a credit on this forgettable franchise fare. Otherwise, the most redeeming aspect of these movies is the undeniable, if familiar, messages about families looking many different ways, the strength of brotherhood, and the unconditional love between parent and child.