Bah, humbug! Another holiday season, another 90 minutes sitting next to your 5-year-old while some kiddie-film throws you a few bones: a classic-rock tune here, a familiar movie line there.
For parents heading to "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," a suggestion: Load an audiobook onto the iPod and bring one of those airline sleep-masks. Otherwise you'll be searching desperately for any glimmer of humor or creativity during this slapdash follow-up to 2007's "Alvin and the Chipmunks."
That film recast the speedy-voiced Chipmunks, a limited but enduring pop-culture novelty dating back to the late 1950s, as a computer-animated rock trio in the vein of the Jonas Brothers. "The Squeakquel" opens with mischievous Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), bespectacled Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and sensitive Theodore (Jesse McCartney) playing a version of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" while their human manager, Dave Seville (Jason Lee), looks on.
Lee is mercifully written out of most of the movie by a mishap. Unfortunately for us, he is replaced by Zachary Levi (NBC's "Chuck"), who plays an overgrown adolescent with the mugging skills of a third-rate Jerry Lewis. Plots and semiplots collide: Some local bullies, a battle of the bands, the all-girl Chipettes (Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate, their high-pitched voices rendered unrecognizable). Lurking in the shadows is the predatory rock manager Ian Hawke (David Cross, whose few amusing moments are so welcome you'll want to give him an Oscar).
The rest is all flatulence jokes, last minute's slang ("hug it out!") and Top 40 tunes like Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Your best hope for entertainment is to listen for lines from unusual movies: "Taxi Driver" and "Silence of the Lambs" are both in there.