College Road Trip

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As family road trip movies go, Disney's "College Road Trip" is a longer and more arduous journey than even "RV" or "Are We There Yet?" On the other hand, those movies performed well at the boxoffice.

Families seem to be extremely tolerant of taxing movie car trips. Perhaps the trick is that everyone is simply glad it's happening to another family and not theirs.

This excursion teams Martin Lawrence with Disney Channel star Raven-Symone. You wouldn't want to accuse either performer of subtlety, but here the two seem to be in a contest to outdo each other with screams, facial contortions and wails of exasperation. Let's call it a draw.

What is puzzling is the incompatibility of the two leads with their roles. Raven is supposed to be a high school senior on a road trip to check out prospective universities. But she acts like a adolescent on a sugar high during a weekend sleepover. Lawrence plays a small-town police chief, one who borrows and totals a squad car, sneaks into a college women's dorm and acts like no cop you've ever seen, in or out of movies.

What Lawrence's James Porter is, in fact, is the worst-case scenario of a control-freak dad: He will not let his precious girl grow up and live an independent life. Despite this, Raven's Melanie Porter is sweet-natured and obedient though her dad does drive her nuts.

Dad wants her to go to Northwestern -- because it's a short drive from their Illinois home. When an opportunity to apply to Georgetown comes up, Melanie joins two friends (Disney Channel actors Brenda Song and Margo Harshman) on a road trip to D.C.


But Dad decides to escort Melanie himself. Then her younger brother (Eshaya Draper) and his pet pig stowaway in the trunk. It's hard for a girl to grow up in a Disney family film. The pet tricks by this extremely well-trained animal provide a running gag that culminates in his crashing a hotel wedding and essentially destroying everything under its tent.

Nothing happens with any logic here. The destruction of the police cruiser, the wedding turmoil, a skydiving episode and a golf course duel with clubs and carts all happen because the road trip needs a bit of excitement, not because anything leads rationally to these incidents.

Direction by Roger Kumble is as hamfisted as the screenplay by four writers is shorn of any sense of how families actually behave.

COLLEGE ROAD TRIP
Buena Vista Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures presents a Gunnfilm production
Credits:
Director: Roger Kumble
Screenwriters: Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Producer: Andrew Gunn
Executive producers: Ann Marie Sanderlin, Anthony Katagas, Raven-Symone, Michael Green
Director of photography: Theo van de Sande
Production designer: Ben Barraud
Music: Edward Shearmur
Costume designer: Francine Jamison-Tanchuck
Editor: Roger Bondelli
Cast:
James Porter: Martin Lawrence
Melanie: Raven-Symone
Doug: Donny Osmond
Nancy: Brenda Song
Trey: Eshaya Drapper
Michelle: Kym E. Whitley
Grandma Porter: Arnetia Walker
Katie: Margo Harshman
Wendy: Molly Ephraim
Running time -- 84 minutes
MPAA rating: G

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