2006-05-26 / Columnists


RV' - Road Outrage
By Robert Snyder

The only thing truly wonderful about "RV" is that Robin Williams has decided to be funny again. After a long succession of serious movies ("What Dreams May Come," "Insomnia," "30 Minute Photo," "Final Cut"), the great comedian is going for full-blown laughs.

And he gets them....even though "RV" is a lame retread of the Chevy Chase "Vacation" movies and Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz's "The Long, Long Trailer." This is despite direction by "Men in Black's" Barry Sonnenfeld.

The problem is that Geoff Rodkey's script is too derivative of the aforementioned films. We feel like we're seeing a sequel when it's the first in what could be a franchise.

Still, Williams as beleaguered father/white-collar executive Bob Munro inserts his own comic asides and uniqueness to keep "RV" from completely running aground. For example, he launches into an hilarious hip-hop rap to deflect some parker park bullies from beating on his undersized teen son, Carl (Josh Hutcherson). Such a moment is the reason why Hollywood hires Robin Williams.

The best bit in "RV" comes in the opening sequence where as a small child, daughter Cassie Munro (Jo anna "JoJo" Levesque) pledges to always be daddy's girl and never get married. Cut to years later and bored teenager Cassie couldn't be more disrespectful and less loving of dear old Dad, who's fallen far from his Ivory Tower. When Dad says, "I have good news," Cassie's hopeful retort is, "I'm being adopted?"

Worried that he's losing his job to a younger man, Bob cancels a longawaited family trip to Hawaii, buys an ugly humongous RV and tells the disappointed family that they're going experience real togetherness on a road trip to Colorado. In fact, he must deliver an all-important sales pitch there to stave off unemployment.

On the trip, it's a predictable laundry list of mishaps, including the overflowing RV septic tank, raccoons in the kitchen and out-of-control brakes on big mountains. The saving comedic grace is the seemingly "trailer trash" Gronicke family, headed by father Travis (Jeff Daniels), which the Munros try endlessly to snub and avoid. The Gronickes are the flip side to the Randy Quaid redneck relatives in Chase's "Vacation." They are closet high class, but simply beating the system by staying mobile. The Munros finally realize their "value" at the film's finale, which hits a false positive note.

If you're up for a light summer comedy, check out "RV" - Robin Williams' return ride on the road to hilarity.

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