THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING!
Mindless comedies abound in our A-D-D afflicted society, and it appears there is no end in sight for this overly worn-out genre when it comes to cinema.
Some may remember THE LONG, LONG TRAILER (a Desi and Lucille Ball 1954 film based loosely on The Lucy Show), but it’s more likely that the current generation will be familiar with NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION or (ugh!) EUROPEAN VACATION, both starring Chevy Chase. The focus of these was on family and how vacations affect individual members in often funny ways. Sometimes they hit their mark, and sometimes not. But RV fails to even form a target.
Where RV lets us down is in ...well ...every department save one (and only minimally there). Its soggy plot, tepid characters, and discouraging script will most likely ruin it for most. But the biggest let down is that the comedy just isn’t that funny. What’s more, most laughs come thanks to the recreational vehicle itself rather than from any character to character interaction (which is where National Lampoon’s Vacation succeeded).
The story is about the Munro family and how distant their lives are from each other as the kids grow into their teens, and the husband and wife lead separate lives thanks to jobs and the demands of home-life. Bob Munro (Robin Williams, GOOD WILL HUNTING) is the patriarch with a demanding boss. He’s forced to cancel his family’s Hawaiian vacation to finish a job and instead of telling his family the truth, lies to them (for fear of being alienated even more) and exclaims that they’re going to take a California to Colorado trek in an RV (where Bob’s supposed to give a presentation). His wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM HBO series) grudgingly goes along for the ride. His kids Cassie (singer Joanna ‘JoJo’ Levesque, AQUAMARINE) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson, ZATHURA) are forced to come along, too, and vent all of their frustrations on Dad. To add further fuel to this volatile mix, they immediately run into the Gornicke family lead by Travis (Jeff Daniels, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), a gypsyish RV clan desperate for friendship. They latch onto Bob and his kin, and never let go.
As the story progresses, we learn that the RV is a character in itself. With a faulty parking brake, it continually breaks loose from its moorings and rolls into trouble (from shopping carts to crumpling over police cars ...probably the funniest moment of the entire movie and it comes at the extreme end of the film). As Bob closes in on his presentation date, he digs a pit of lies under his family in order to keep them in the dark as to his real reasons for going RVing. And once the truth comes out, the family falls into chaos only to be saved by cliche and a putrid made-for-TV ending ("We understand now, Dad!").
So there you go. Just too few laugh-out-loud moments and a transparent family drama that’ll make you nauseous. Too bad considering this was supposed to be a feel-good comedy. It’s not that comedic, and you certainly won’t feel good after watching it.