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College Road Trip (2008)

1 rating: 3.0
A movie

Choosing a college and striking out on one's own is an exciting time that requires a big adjustment by both child and parent, but few parents will have as much difficulty relinquishing control over their daughter's life as Chicago police chief … see full wiki

1 review about College Road Trip (2008)

Papa, Can You Drive Me?

  • Mar 11, 2008
Rating:
+3
There's a sequence in "College Road Trip" in which a pig destroys a wedding because it's hopped up on coffee beans. This is soon followed by Raven-Symoné leading a busload of Asian tourists in a rendition of "Double Dutch Bus." Near the end of the film, Symoné and Martin Lawrence become on-the-spot skydivers; they land in a golf course where they just happen to run into the man whose daughter's wedding was destroyed by the pig. I'd like to say that this material is expected of a G rated film, but is it really? It seems more likely that the filmmakers were just grabbing at comedic straws and hoping that something would come of it. I won't say that this movie is bad, because I'm well aware that it's aiming for younger audiences. But it definitely isn't trying very hard; the theme is transitioning into adulthood, but the sense of humor is the kind only young children can appreciate.

The plot: seventeen-year-old Melanie Porter (Symoné) wants to attend Georgetown Universtiy in Washington D.C., but her insanely overprotective father, James (Lawrence), wants her to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern is only a forty-mile drive from their home just outside of Chicago, and as a police chief, he believes that such a short distance will keep his daughter safe. Besides, he had been planning this for her ever since she was born. He's clearly a control freak, which is partly why Melanie wants to go to a far-away college. But there's more to it than that: she wants to study law. Unbeknownst to James, a judge visiting her high school promised to arrange an interview for her at Georgetown. Also unbeknownst to James, Melanie and her friends had planned a road trip that would end up in Washington D.C. When he learns of all this, he decides to take Melanie on his own version of a road trip; hopefully, he can convince her that Northwestern is the best possible choice.

The comedic hijinx begin almost as soon as the trip. At the first stop--Northwestern--Melanie quickly discovers that her father staged an elaborate scheme; tour guides, students, and faculty all tell Melanie that Georgetown is a violent place. One person says that her father is smart and cool. After this fiasco, James' car gets a flat tire in the middle of the woods, and from this we discover that his brainy young son--Trey (Eshaya Draper)--has stowed away, along with his pet pig, Albert (who James doesn't trust; he calls him Houdini Pig). James jacks the car too far up, causing it to roll down a hill and into a ditch. They then stay at a hotel where the abovementioned wedding is being held. They then meet the father/daughter duo of Doug and Wendy Greenhut (Donny Osmond and Molly Ephraim), who are also on a college road trip. They happily drive James and Melanie to a bus station. Actually, "happily" is not a strong enough word here--they take perky to a level I don't care to describe.

Naturally, Melanie and James start reconnecting as the journey continues. But more importantly, James begins to realize that Melanie is no longer his precious little girl; he has to take the steps to let her go so that she can live her own life. Unoriginal, yes, but I think we all know that issues of love and trust play major roles in any such story. We even get the obligatory advice from Melanie's grandmother (Ametia Walker), required by the unspoken laws of family films to understand her granddaughter's frustration. None of that bothered me. What did bother me were scenes that took the comedy to unnecessary heights. Example: after sneaking into a sorority house to spy on Melanie, James is tasered by the sorority mother and arrested. Why did this scene have to be in the movie? Do you think young kids would find that funny? How many young kids actually know what a taser gun is? I suppose it may be more than I think, and that's sad when you stop and think about it.

Moments like that are genuinely bad. Everything else about the film is just mind-numbingly routine, offering nothing new in the way of character, theme, setting, or resolution. The best that can be said is that the actors look like they're having fun. This is especially true of Donny Osmond, who hams it up so thoroughly that it's more or less convincing. Raven-Symoné seems to be in her element, but that isn't saying very much since her resume is largely composed of "That's So Raven."

I think by now you get the point I'm trying to make. Most films like this suffer because the filmmakers don't know how to handle the material; they make them too goofy or too sappy or too crazy, even when the story doesn't call for it. I didn't get that feeling from "College Road Trip"--it seemed like the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing. That's fine, I guess, as long as you don't mind family films that are zany, sickly sweet, and predictable. I can pretty much guarantee that kids will enjoy this film, if not for its message, then for the delight of watching the adult characters do silly things. The pig will also get some laughs out of the little ones. Let's face it--the pig is damn cute. Parents, on the other hand, will get almost nothing from the film, save for a couple of tender moments between Lawrence and Symoné. "College Road Trip" is only as good as it wanted to be, a fancy way of saying it didn't want to be very good at all.

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