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The Road's Bumpy, But RV Will Still Make You Laugh

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • 2006 4 Apr
  • COMMENTS
The Road's Bumpy, But <i>RV</i> Will Still Make You Laugh

Release Date:  April 28, 2006
Rating:  PG (crude humor and language)
Run Time:  98 min.
Director:  Barry Sonnenfeld
Actors:  Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth, Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Will Arnette, Brian Howe

Can a road trip (in a garish, slow-moving R.V. no less) bring a family closer together? Well, minus the R.V., it always seemed to work wonders for the Griswolds – but not without plenty of hi-jinx in the process.

In what’s essentially a cleaner, PG remake of the classic “Vacation” series for the iPod generation, we’re introduced to Bob Munro (Robin Williams), a sympathetic but down-on-his-luck husband and father who’s growing more distant from his family by the minute and isn’t exactly doing well at the office, either, as his smarmy boss (Will Arnett) has a new hot-shot (Brian Howe) to make all the important company proposals.

And if things weren’t bad enough at home with his spoiled, sarcastic wife (Cheryl Hines), impossible-to-please (and seriously in need of a spanking) Lindsay Lohan-esque daughter, Cassie (JoJo Levesque) and detached, gangsta-in-training son, Carl (Josh Hutcherson), Bob's about to break the news that the upcoming family trip to Hawaii won’t be happening after all. With his job (and ultimately the family’s high-class standard of living) in jeopardy, it turns out that Bob has an important, can’t-be-missed business meeting in Colorado. But instead of telling his wife and kids the truth, well, he’s takes a more creative route that he hopes will also bring about some needed family harmony. And so the adventure begins before the Munros even leave the block as their rented R.V. proves to be more than a little unwieldy for the inexperienced driver.

But getting out of the driveway is inevitably the least of their worries as they make their way to the Rocky Mountains. There’s the issue of how to properly dispose of the fecal matter (a gross-out joke that goes on far too long but yielded a surprising amount of laughs from the audience), a nasty run-in with raccoons (hmmm, shouldn’t have left that pot roast in the stove), the R.V.’s unfortunate tendency to roll away, and yeah, numerous, unwelcome encounters with the Gornickes. The Gornickes are the movie’s go-to comic relief as an all-too-chipper modern-day Partridge family who the Munros first encounter at an R.V. park. If the family’s penchant for white-trash fashion, complete with Travis’ (Jeff Daniels) handlebar mustache isn't offensive enough, the family also sings to pass the time, thinks animal organs qualify as a vegetarian meal and actually calls their tacky R.V. home.

Of course, despite the Gornickes' societal faux pas, it’s not long before the audience realizes that they have something the Munros don’t – an obvious appreciation for each other, despite their rather kooky behavior and lack of material possessions. When it’s all said and done, it’s the interaction (and contrasts) between these two families that best represent the movie’s positive message and provide the most unpredictable laughs as Marie Jo Gornicke (Kristin Chenoweth) steals every scene she’s in with her over-optimistic naiveté and aw-shucks Southern-girl charm.

But even though Chenoweth is the movie’s requisite scene-stealer, the wacky premise couldn’t have been pulled off by anyone other than Williams. With the heart of "Mrs. Doubtfire" (minus the grandmotherly transformation, of course) and his knack for slapstick, any other leading man wouldn't have fared as well with a script that’s equal parts silly and sappy. But with Williams in the lead, you actually believe that his family eventually comes around, even if the end result melds in true Hollywood fashion (a.k.a. a little too tidy and convenient).

AUDIENCE:  10 and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  A few cuss words here and there, but none of a religious nature. There are a few crude jokes, however, mostly of the potty-humor variety.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, although Chenoweth has a penchant for rather bust-accentuating shirts.
  • Violence:  Nothing that’s not of the slapstick variety (i.e. Bob’s trouble with raccoons).