DVD Release Date:  July 15, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  March 7, 2008
Rating:  G
Genre:  Comedy/Adventure
Run Time:  94 min.
Director:  Roger Kumble
Actors:  Martin Lawrence, Raven Symone,  Donnie Osmond, Brenda Song, Kym Whitley, Eugene Jones III, Margo Harshman, Lucas Grabeel, Matthew Schlein

It is a rare and beautiful thing when a movie can truly capture the imagination of audiences ages three to seventy-three, but Disney’s new College Road Trip manages to do just that.  The packed screening audience—which included people of all ages and races—howled with laughter as they were thoroughly entertained by the movie’s well-cast, hilariously relatable characters.

Chief James Porter (Martin Lawrence) is a cop … a good cop who prides himself on being up on the latest protective systems and methods.  And his protective nature doesn’t stop at the office.  As a loving, doting father, he does everything in his power to ensure that his baby, Melanie (Raven Symone) remains in a nice cocoon of his love.  Even her college plans fit nicely within his control.

Conveniently, Northwestern University is only a half-hour drive from home, and Daddy has things all arranged.  The problem is, Melanie would actually like to attend Georgetown University, a nine-hour drive from home!  She lands an appointment with the admissions board, and she and her girlfriends plan to take a road trip to the school.  When the chief finds out about it, however, he moves heaven and earth to switch the plans—which now include him!

Much to Melanie’s horror, her father pulls up in his police van, loads up her luggage, and heads out on the road with her.  Melanie has a sick smile on her face.  When the chief starts singing, encouraging her to join in, Melanie insists she doesn’t remember “their song” (which makes Porter sad).  But not to be deterred, he continues to try and engage his daughter in “deep, deep conversation.”

Melanie is doubly ticked off when suddenly Dad pulls off the highway, and into the campus of Northwestern!  He insists they have time for a little campus tour since they don’t have to be at Georgetown for two days.  On the tour, they meet Doug (Donnie Osmond) and his daughter, who are a hyper-excited, huggy, singing, preppy duo.  They also meet a major hunk, Nick (Kristian Kordula), who offers to give Melanie a personal tour of the school.  It takes a surprising turn, however, resulting in some hilarious antics between all the parties, but finally the trip to Georgetown resumes.

The next two days are filled with crazy accidents, the finding of a stowaway in the van, some happenstance meetings with various characters, a wedding crash, a sorority house crash, trouble with the law, and a major test of father-daughter trust.  It will take some serious willingness on both parts to really listen to each other and choose flexibility and trust, in order to ensure the fulfillment of Melanie’s college plans and future dreams.

College Road Trip is a fun and crazy ride in which families will be glad they’re included.  The production value is high, with many special effects, good editing, and clever screenwriting.  The acting is spot on, and Donnie Osmond steals the show as the over-the-top, happy-clappy father.  Martin Lawrence’s character is so relatable to those who are contemplating sending their precious offspring into the world.  The only problem is that the movie makes going away to college look so amazingly fun, that it might be hard to make a connection with those who are taking the stay-at-home or close-to-home higher ed route.  (There really are benefits to that, too!)