College Road Trip
Is G-Rated Martin Lawrence A Good Thing?

Ah, the post-Oscar wasteland is upon us. If College Road Trip is any indication of the quality of movie we will be seeing for the next couple of months before the summer blockbusters arrive, well… put the family entertainment budget into the college fund now!

At the middle school where I work we have a rule called “2 to 1”: for every negative we want to bring up, we must first offer two positives. Two positives for College Road Trip: Donny Osmond rocks in his supporting role; and Albert, the pig, is adorable. There. Now I can be negative.

Raven-Symoné as Melanie in College Road Trip

In College Road Trip an overprotective, police chief father is faced with facts that terrify him. His only daughter (also his oldest child) will soon graduate from high school and go off to college. (No, she doesn’t decide to run off to New York and become a dancer. That would be too easy.) Melanie decides that going 40 miles away to Northwestern is yawnsville and sets her sights on attending Georgetown in Washington, DC. Now what could possibly be wrong with that? Well, dad would not be close enough to protect and smother his daughter—exactly. Thus begins an 83-minute nightmare of over-strained credibility, over-insulted intelligence, and overdone and over-tired humor as Melanie and Dad hit the road, each determined to win the other over to their choice of the future.

Right out of the gate, College Road Trip stretches credibility beyond reasonable and believable limits. First of all, the audience is asked to believe that a police chief living in Evanston, Illinois, pulls down a salary that commands a home that most movie goers would never even be able to dream of—and that he can afford to send a child to money-pits like Georgetown or Northwestern Universities. (No mention of scholarships here!) The Porter family is cloyingly close and, as Mary Poppins would say, “practically perfect in every way.” Raven-Symoné also strains credibility playing the 17-year-old Melanie. (Her twenty-five-year-old face, while very pretty, belies knowledge of a lot more life than the protected one that Melanie Porter has led.) Finally, College proves that Martin Lawrence can do “G,” but as my editor so brilliantly pointed out, that’s like saying, “a stud horse can be neutered.”

Rather than write their own humor, screenwriters Mochizuki and Evans attempt to include every form of humor found in former successes such as the National Lampoon, Scary Movie, Airport, Animal House, and Police Academy franchises that were recently joined by The Spartans. The intent on the writers’ parts may have been to create a spoof of all the spoofs, but someone (possibly Lawrence or director Roger Kumble) decided that the movie could become a touching and believable family film.

But the moments of reflection on the rapid passing of time get overwhelmed and lost in the mayhem of the overtly predictable slapstick comedy. College Road Trip is a psychotic mash-up that discordantly fights itself, trying to be a family film that wants to be a spoof of all family films. It’s a trip all right, one that lands flat on its face. The most telling indicator of this for me was that I couldn’t hear the children in the audience laughing along with the roaring adults. The kids were confused, and the kids were right to be baffled!

Can you guess that I didn’t like the movie? Well, if still in doubt, allow me one more rant. College Road Trip commits the biggest sin any piece of art can—it insults the intelligence of its audience by consistently taking itself too seriously and expecting the viewers to follow unquestionably. After all the slapsticky, Keystone Cops-type mayhem for 75 minutes, Martin Lawrence attempts to deliver an unbelievably maudlin good-bye scene as the chief and his wife finally drop Melanie off for her first semester at Georgetown. The music swells, Lawrence’s voiceover reaches out to grab the hardest heart-demanding tears and sniffles; but Lawrence’s eyes don’t even tear up! That’s when I knew I had been played and that College Road Trip was going to tank at the box office.

College Road Trip is rated G. The movie is 100% free of any foul language, overtly displayed skin, or violence (except to one’s intelligence) of any kind. This is the perfect movie for mom and dad to safely send the kids to while they catch the R-rated adult feature next door. However, I would maintain that your children would have a good case for child abuse; and remember, the movie is only 83-minutes long—the kids will be out before you are!

Courtesy of a local publicist, Kathy attended a promotional screening of College Road Trip.