College Road Trip (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Family
Disney || G - 83 minutes - $29.99 || July 15, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-07-08


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Roger Kumble
Writer(s): Emi Mochizuki & Carrie Evans and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (written by)
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Donny Osmund


Theatrical Release Date: March 7, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director & Star Commentary
  • Co-writers' Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Raven's Video Diary
  • Music Video
  • On the Set: Double Dutch Bus


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Given the context of being under the “Walt Disney Pictures Presents” banner and a ‘G’ rating, this movie actually wasn’t really as bad as the critics and general public (it has a 2.7/10 rating on IMDb) make it out to be. Before going further, I feel I should preface by saying College Road Trip is not a great comedy by any means but it did manage to entertain and make me laugh a couple of times.

It’s a simple story: Overprotective father James Porter (Lawrence) wants his college-bound daughter, Melanie (Raven-Symoné), to attend Northwestern University because it’s close to home and he’ll know she is safe. Melanie on the other hand has her sights set on Georgetown where she wants to major in Pre-Law. Rather than having her go on a road trip with her gal-pals, James decides it would be a good time for bonding and not to mention convince her that Northwestern was the place. So a college road trip is at hand as James, Melanie and his son, Trey and his pet pig who stowed-away) get into disastrous situations and meet unusual people like Doug (Osmond) and his daughter who are also checking out colleges (but enjoying the experience far more). Zany antics and Disney heart-warming scenes follow...

In all honesty, I know I shouldn’t have enjoyed this as much as I did, but I can’t lie. Although I saw no connection between Lawrence and his screen wife (played by Kym Whitley), the father-daughter chemistry between him and Raven-Symoné was touching. We’re not talking a Steve Martin/Kimberly Williams of Father of the Bride connection here, but still it worked.

But the biggest surprise was that College Road Trip was nowhere near as obnoxious as I was anticipating. Over the years I have turned on a couple Disney programs and my lord were they awful. Yeah, I’m not in that age group they’re aiming at, but I could not turn off an episode fast enough. This wasn’t the case here, fortunately. Being a singer/actress, Raven-Symoné does break out into a mini music video on a bus singing a little jingle called... “Double Dutch Bus” -- which just so happened to be the song her and her father sang back in the day.

Martin Lawrence basically just plays the same kind of character he always does. It’s the same guy from Wild Hogs or Bad Boys (minus the swearing). He’s a family man sometimes in over his head but has loud comebacks for any situation. Hey, that’s his thing and for the most part it works, so why change?

Before I oversell this film – some might argue I already have –, College Road Trip isn’t something adults will overly enjoy, but for families you can certainly find worse kid-friendly movies than this. As I said, I don’t believe it’s nearly as awful as the reviews made it out to be, yet at the same time I also have a hard time fully recommending the film for those over the age of 12 (and that’s stretching it). It is filled with a couple funny G-rated scenes like a pig that crashes a wedding (it’s not really the pig that was funny but a joke about the bride) and so because it did manage to exceed my low (x5) expectations, it gets a modest rating.

I think the message of this movie is also commendable. It’s about the difficulties parents have of letting go as their kids are about to enter adulthood and away from the nest for the first time. Yes, it takes it to extremes and enters into cliché-land, but at the same time I didn’t see anything wrong with that as it was handled pretty well.

Peculiarly, College Road Trip was actually directed by Roger Kumble. Many may not recognize his name, but you know his debut, a little film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Philippe called Cruel Intentions. I guess everyone has to find work wherever it may be, but to go from PG-13/R rated affairs (Cruel Intentions 2, The Sweetest Thing and Just Friends) to a G-rated Disney flick? That is one odd transition.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Amazingly, Disney has given the disc not one but two feature commentary tracks. The first one is with director Roger Kumble and star/exec producer Raven-Symoné and the second is with writers Emi Mochizuki and Carrie Evans. The first one has a pretty good balance between fun conversation and tid-bits from on the set. Kumble actually does most of the talking but Raven keeps up; while track #2 obviously handles the writing aspects where they talk about changes that were made be it in the story or the characters. However, this one also has too many silent moments...

Deleted Scenes (12:36) – 10 scenes with optional commentary by Kumble have been included but for the most part they don’t move the story forward and were excised for good reason.

Alternate Scenes (3:34) – An alternate opening, featuring Vincent Pastore from “The Sopranos”, and two alternate endings are also included with optional director’s commentary.

Raven’s Video Diary (9:56) – Star/Executive Producer Raven-Symoné takes a camcorder around the set and interviews various cast and crew members. I’m not a particular fan of these video diaries, so this was a bit of a chore to get through.

Other features on the disc include a below average gag reel (2:48), Raven-Symoné’s music video (3:15) of “Double Dutch Bus” and On the Set: Double Dutch Bus (3:26) is the making of the music video. Oddly, the ‘making-of’ was in anamorphic widescreen, but not the music video itself.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

College Road Trip is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 OAR. The transfer looks good and features some vibrant colors... who am I kidding... it’s a comedy, it looks fine on the small screen. I didn’t notice any scratches or dust. A full screen version is also included (it is a single-sided disc).

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is OK. There’s a lot of dialogue, some zany music cues and that forced musical number on a Japanese Tourist bus (where the track thrives). A French track is also available.



.::OVERALL::.

I probably shouldn’t have liked College Road Trip as much as I did, but it did manage to make me laugh a couple of times and even with an overly predictable plot (it is a Disney movie after all), I don’t quite understand the terrible ratings it has received. Even with the praise I have bestowed upon this comedy, I can only recommend it for families as the G-rated material is suitable for everyone probably under the age of 12, any older and you may become either annoyed or bored.