A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comedy stars Raven-Symone and features Lucas Grabeel and Brenda Song, all of whom lots of kids know and love from their popular Disney Channel shows and movies. Given that immediate Disney tie-in, expect even young elementary schoolers to show an interest in the movie. The good news is that despite Martin Lawrence's history as a foulmouthed stand-up comic, this is one family-friendly flick. There are a couple of scenes of slapsticky mayhem (like when a pet pig runs amok at a wedding reception), and a few moments of teens badmouthing parents who just don't understand; otherwise, there's nothing here to worry about.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
James Porter (Martin Lawrence) is the chief of police for a Chicago suburb. Incredibly security obsessed, he wants his daughter Melanie (Raven-Symone) to attend nearby Northwestern University, where she's already been accepted. But Mel really wants to go to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., where she's been wait-listed. When she gets an unexpected interview, she decides to take a road trip with her best friends ... until James reconsiders and takes her himself -- so he can convince her to go to Northwestern. Along the way, they encounter several obstacles and near-disasters but also finally get the chance to really talk to each other.
Is it any good?
Lawrence seems to be following the well-worn path of other formerly risque stand-up comics, making his living in watered-down, family-friendly comedies. This latest piece of Disney fluff is at least pleasant and better than expected. All parents (whether they have college students or not) can relate to the bittersweet realization that their kids are growing up. The discrepancy between how close James thinks he is to Melanie and how little he actually knows of her plans will probably strike close to home for many viewers, particularly teens and parents. For that reason, it's clear that director Roger Kumble wanted movie-going parents to relate to -- not just tolerate -- the plot.
In addition to Raven, who's so successful that she's one of the movie's executive producers, COLLEGE ROAD TRIP is filled with other recognizable stars from Disney franchises, like Lucas Grabeel from High School Musical and Brenda Song from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (all of which just makes the movie feel even more like a Disney Channel special than a big-screen event). Younger fans will also get a kick out of Melanie's genius younger brother, Trey (Eshaya Draper), who stows away with his faithful pet pig, Albert. Between Lawrence's slapstick, the presence of Raven and her fellow Disney-anointed stars, and the funny kid and his pig, there are bound to be laughs (and perhaps a couple of tears) in store for everyone in the family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays parent-child relationships. Which father-daughter dynamic seems more realistic -- Melanie and the chief's or Wendy and Doug's? Why? Why do you think Disney cast so many familiar TV faces in this movie? Kids: Did you want to see the movie more because you know the actors from their shows? What else made you want to see it?
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