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Overall Rating
2.51

Awesome: 2.22%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average51.11%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 28.89%

5 reviews, 15 user ratings


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by Peter Sobczynski

"Come back, Chevy Chase--all is forgiven!"
1 stars

A wise critic once wrote that there was an easy way to tell if you were getting a good Robin Williams movie or an atrocious one–the latter almost inevitably includes at least one fairly superfluous scene in which he trots out a variety of wacky voices and dated pop culture references. In his latest family comedy, “R.V.,” the opening corporate logos haven’t even had a chance to fade from view before he starts up with his schtick–complete with a Sylvester Stallone impression that is sure to confuse any child in the audience who didn’t see “Spy Kids 3-D”–in a desperate bid to score some laughs from the more easily entertained members of the audience. The tragic thing is that this bit is actually one of the high points in a smug, stupid, ugly and gross blend of icky slapstick and ickier sentiment that seems to have been made for no other reason than to answer that most unasked of questions: “What would the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz film ‘The Long, Long Trailer’ have been like if it contained more jokes about exploding sewer lines?”

In the film, Williams plays an overworked corporate drone who fears that his family is growing apart and decides that the only way to bring them together is to put them in a situation where they can endure both a litany of wacky catastrophes and moments in which he inexplicably lapses into material that he did for Johnny Carson back in 1986. This time, he plays harried soda executive Bob Munro and as the film opens, he is forced by his evil boss to scuttle his planned vacation to Hawaii in order to go to Colorado to give a presentation for a merger or lose his job. Placed in such a situation, I suspect that most of us would either break the news to our families that the trip was off or send them on ahead and catch up with them later. Of course, that is hardly the material for wacky comedy, so Bob decides to cancel the Hawaii trip and instead rents an RV to drive to the mountains in Colorado without telling the family–wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines), surly daughter Cassie (JoJo) and bodybuilding son Carl (Josh Hutcherson)–his ulterior motive for the trip.

No doubt, you will be shocked to discover that Bob’s mastery of the vehicle is less than complete and he is always backing it into something or knocking something else off. No doubt, you will be shocked to discover that there are scenes in which he is forced to wrestle with woodland creatures, oncoming traffic and, in the film’s most unnecessarily extended sequence, the rig’s plumbing system. (The money shot of the latter is the latter is the sight of Williams covered from head to toe in foul-looking gunk–a visual so fraught with metaphor that it almost seems too obvious to point out.) No doubt, you will be shocked to discover that his family starts off hating the entire experience, a normal reaction for anyone trapped in an enclosed space with Williams for an extended period of time, only to wind up growing closer in the end–except for that brief period when they discover the real motive for the trip and unaccountably hate him again. No doubt, you will be shocked to discover that Williams delivers a heart-warming concluding speech in which he tells off his evil boss by saying that being with his family is more important than getting paid lots of money to push a useless and mind-rotting product–a speech that, by this time, you will wish he had delivered to the people at Sony after finishing the first script read-through.

Even more painful than these familiar ingredients is a subplot involving a weird and excessively friendly family of fellow travelers, led by Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth, who keep turning up to blithely terrorize the Munro’s with their good cheer, home-spun wisdom and wholesale embrace of the tackier aspects of trailer-park culture–they sell novelty car horns and beauty products out of their trailer and offer up meat loaf and screenings of “Ernest Goes to Jail.” Putting aside the fact that if you are going to write a scene that mocks “Ernest Goes to Jail,” you should take care to at least make sure it is in a film that is appreciably better, there is at least a germ of a genuinely satiric idea here–the blue states vs. the red states in an interstate death match. However, perhaps mindful of the fact that he really needs a hit after the underwhelming “Men in Black II,” director Barry Sonnenfeld immediately pulls his punches by giving us a smugly condescending scene in which Williams assures them and us that they are truly wonderful salt-of-the-earth people that all of us should aspire to be like. (As you may have guessed, the last third of the film is chock-full of heartfelt speeches–I can grudgingly accept this on the basis that they provide more laughs than the moments that are actually supposed to be funny.)

Having spent the last few years trying to break out of the wacky/sentimental comedy ghetto with mixed results–ranging from the highs of “Insomnia” and “One-Hour Photo” to the depths of “House of D” and “Death to Smoochy”–I can understand why Williams would choose to return to the genre for a quick and presumably hefty paycheck but even he seems relatively bored trotting through these familiar paces once again. He isn’t the only talented person wasted “R.V.”–Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth are all criminally underused as well in roles that are hardly worthy of their gifts. At one point, the film actually goes out of its way to reunite two of the stars of the late, great “Arrested Development”–Will Arnett and Tony Hale–for a single scene. Though the film can’t be bothered to actually give them anything to do together, the fact that the filmmakers cast them in the first place would at least suggest that they know great comedy when they see it, even though the available evidence suggests that they have no idea of how to create it themselves.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14492&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/28/06 16:52:26
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User Comments

5/22/09 Jeff Wilder All the funny scenes were in the trailer and the story itself has been done to death. 2 stars
1/15/09 Anonymous. some parts were funny, most was not. 2 stars
6/15/08 PAUL SHORTT A CORNY, NOISY AND DERIVATIVE ROAD FILM 1 stars
1/10/08 Matt Williams can do much better than this moderately funny thiing. Feces is NOT funny! 3 stars
7/27/07 ashley pickhover is David Coulier in this movie? 4 stars
4/02/07 brent gerald mejia sr. Not great but totally amusing. 4 stars
3/03/07 David Pollastrini Not great not terrible 3 stars
1/10/07 emma i would watch the movie over again 5 stars
12/07/06 action movie fan dumb not funny characters are straight out of cartoons--not realistic-a yawn 2 stars
9/22/06 Anthony Feor It aint a Vacation, if you know what i mean 3 stars
8/13/06 Zaw not too bad of a movie. 3 stars
6/16/06 Ole Man Bourbon Robin Williams saves a totally blah movie from total crappitude. 3 stars
6/02/06 LC We had fun at this movie. Kids loved it! 4 stars
5/22/06 Bonnie Baker Recommend if u want laughs a minute!!!!! 4 stars
5/01/06 Bob R It's Alberta, and a few good laughs for all of us. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Apr-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Aug-2006

UK
  09-Jun-2006 (PG)

Australia
  N/A (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2006



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