Robin Williams isn't everyone's cup of char. Having said that, when he's in family movies, he generally delivers. Even his brief dabbling with some dark, serious roles was taken well, but he's had a few turkeys in his time.
Barry Sonnenfeld, the director of this movie, is also generally reliable. From Men In Black, Get Shorty and the Addams Family, he's had plenty of hit movies. But he's also had a few turkeys in his time too, with Wild Wild West. So, is this movie any different?
Bob Munro (Williams) has promised his family a vacation in Hawaii, but due to his daughter friend upsetting his boss, he's forced to cancel his holiday as a presentation is required in Colorado. Rather than face the wrath of his wife and kids, Bob decides that they'll get in a RV and travel across the US to Colorado, where he can have his meeting and ultimately keep his job. Things aren't so easy as the rich, suburban family meet wildlife, fellow RV enthusiasts, the Gornicke's (Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth) and other assorted trials and tribulations. Will Bob keep his job and his family, who are incredibly irked over missing out on Hawaii? Will the Gornicke's drive them insane? And more importantly, will we care at the end?
Well, I'm in two minds over this movie. If you take it as a regular movie then it's pretty poor. It has a few funny moments, but as most of the movie is slapstick, for my taste they are few and far between. If you view it as a traditional, family movie, then it works very well. It's very sweet and innocent (to a point) and has the atypical moral at the end of the story. Williams, for the most part, is pretty much reigned in to a role where he isn't the comedian, but rather the adversity that he is faced with is the comedic element. He's the straight guy ultimately, but there are glimpses of his manic self - for example the “Tickle Monster”, but more of that later.
As to the rest of the cast, Daniels et al are fine, but some of the child actors aren't the best. Apparently one of them, “JoJo” is famous, but I have no idea who she is. I'd guess she's a singer from the song at the end, but hey - if it ain't rock, it ain't music!
One of the most distracting things in this movie, however, is the green screen effects (or in this case, blue). They are really noticeable in the picture and I'm not really sure if it's a case of the image of the disc being that good, or the fact that the effect is actually that bad. But, trust me on this, when the Munro's are in the RV talking, you can see clearly that they aren't on the road and are in fact in a studio - it's that blatant. This to a degree highlights the problem in movies where they try to be too clever - they should have just stuck the set on a trailer and shot it against the real backdrop! At least it would look natural!
So, how to score this movie? Well, as a movie “critic”, it doesn't work for me - it's not laugh out loud funny, the poorly implemented effects don't work and it's just sub-par. But, as a family movie, it has its moments. It's not offensive and young kids will enjoy it, even if it is for poop-jokes. But then, Kevin Smith made a living off similar gags and he's cool in my book. So - I've scored it as a family movie, which gives it a couple more points, for what it's worth.
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