College Road TripBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: G
Release Date: March 7, 2008
Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes
Synopsis: High school senior Melanie Porter and her father James are close, though his controlling ways can drive her crazy. Ever since she was a little girl, James has planned for her to attend nearby Northwestern University for college but Melanie has dreams of far away Georgetown University. When a last-minute interview at Georgetown becomes available, James talks Melanie into taking a road trip to the campus in order for them to bond and to watch over her, of course. Melanie’s mom just hopes the two won’t kill each other before they get to the Washington, D.C campus.
Sex/Nudity: Melanie is interested in cute college men—and brings one home for Thanksgiving at the end of the movie—but isn’t utterly boy crazed or overtly sexual.
Violence/Gore: A variety of mock violent scenarios unfold from the destruction of a wedding tent, a rolled over SUV, a few taser shocks to the chest and a wrecked sorority/fraternity fair by a golf cart chase.
Which Kids Will Like It?
Raven-Symoné has a built in base with young Nickelodeon fans and her character Melanie’s desire to break away from her pushy dad will ring true for many pre-teens and teens.
Will Parents Like It?
Most parents should be able to identify with James’s bittersweet experience of watching his beloved daughter leave the nest. While much of the slapstick humor is targeted to the juvenile audience members, adult viewers may enjoy the movie’s few heartfelt, emotional moments.
Kaboose Review: At the tender age of 4-years-old, little Raven-Symoné charmed Dr. Cliff Huxtable—and America—as Olivia on TV’s The Cosby Show. A consummate professional even at a young age, Symoné has carefully crafted her career with roles on family friendly TV shows like Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Kim Possible and her eponymous Disney program, That’s So Raven, as well as movies like Dr. Doolittle, The Princess Diaries 2 and The Cheetah Girls. In College Road Trip, her new teen movie with comic Martin Lawrence, Symoné is now acting more like her mid-20s age but still playing to the squeaky clean family market.
Symoné plays Melanie Porter, a driven young woman with plans to become a lawyer after a degree at Georgetown University. However, her protective police chief father James’ (Lawrence) biggest criteria for his daughter’s college education is the school’s proximity to their Chicago home. After Melanie scores an opportunity to interview at Georgetown, she and her dad take to the road for some father daughter bonding and some hilarious hijinks. Though James and Melanie aren’t responsible for all of the wacky destruction caused by the Porter family on their cross-country trip, some comes from Melanie’s science phenomenon younger brother Trey (Eshaya Draper) and his super pig Albert, who’ve stow away in the family SUV.
As a stand-up comedian turned action star, Lawrence is known for his raunchy cutting edge material. But he’s also made slapstick comedies a part of his career, doing ridiculous stunts on screen like dressing up as sassy grandmother in Big Momma’s House. Here, his rubber faced mugging is strictly General Admission and seems an obvious match to Symoné equally over-sized Disney acting style. The two of them could practically be cartoon characters. Even more exaggerated in their clowning than Lawrence and Symoné is a cameo performance by former child star Donny Osmond, who plays “future booster parent” Doug Greenhut, also on a college tour with his equally obnoxious daughter, Wendy. Their antics are too idiotic even for this kind of clownish family fun.
A bright spot in all of this outlandish silliness is Draper as Mel’s brother Trey and his adorable pet pig. Something about this earnest little boy and the scientific engineering of his smart porcine friend is actually charming. Perhaps that’s because the director Roger Kumble allows this young actor to be more of a real little boy and less of a cookie cutter, corporate commodity.
Directed by: Roger Kumble
Cast: Martin Lawrence (James Porter), Raven-Symoné (Melanie Porter), Kym Whitley (Michelle Porter), Eshaya Draper (Trey Porter), Donny Osmond (Doug Greenhut), Molly Ephraim (Wendy Greenhut), Brenda Song (Nancy), Margo Harshman (Katie), Arnetia Walker (Grandma Porter)
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.