I should start by saying I understand that what I think is funny is probably different than what a ten-year-old kid thinks is funny. However, I'm going to base this review on the fact that parents have to go to these things, too. For an adult, College Road Trip, starring Raven Symone and comedian Martin Lawrence, is an exhausting experience. But when I noticed the little girl in the seat next to me could hardly contain her laughter, I realized I was watching the movie equivalent of a drum set: the kids love it, but heaven help the parents who have to listen to that racket.
Directed by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions), the movie has a simple premise: a bright high school senior named Melanie Porter (Simone) wants to go to Georgetown University. Her overprotective police chief father would rather she attend Northwestern as it is located close to their suburban Chicago home. When Melanie gets her chance to interview at Georgetown, her father volunteers to drive her there with the hope of persuading her against that school through all kinds of wacky, strange plotting. It's not the simple minded storyline, nor the one-dimensional characters that makes this movie so perplexing, but what everyone involved with this film considers funny.
For more about why I think you should approach this movie with caution, read more.
I kept hoping the tender father-daughter bonding moments that break up the movie's incomprehensible zany sequences would last longer because that's where both leads shine. While the material was weak during those moments, I could see glimpses of what might have been: a sweet, funny little movie about leaving the nest. Mostly though, it's just a lot of the slapstick comedy routines and timing that belongs on a half-hour TV sitcom.
Simone in particular knee-jerked into overacting mode straight out of the Scooby-Doo school of drama: "scared" is portrayed with huge bulging eyes and exaggerated trembles, "happy" is a painfully wide grin and high-pitch screaming. It's a shame because she shows many signs that she's better than this, and hopefully she'll learn how to reel it in — just a tad — over time.
Also, there's Donny Osmond. In a real acting stretch for him, he plays a gratingly peppy guy who's eyeballs are perpetually bulging out of his face, too. They all must have shared the same acting coach. Like I said, the kids, they'll laugh at almost anything, but just like parents get to hold a grudge against the aunt that bought the drum set, I think we can be a little peeved at Disney for this one.
Photos courtesy of Walt Disney