A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the sexual content in Johnson Family Vacation includes nonstop sex jokes, including an erection gag, as well as implied nudity and lots of talk about having sex. All the violence is played for laughs, including car crashes, a man being beat up and a baby alligator being nearly drowned. There is drinking and a drug reference -- a hitchhiker leaves a drug pipe in the car and the family goes to jail for it. The commercialism is blatant, from the Burberry car interior to the youngest daughter's love of Froot Loops and the son's Pepsi addiction.
What's the story?
L.A. insurance man Nate (Cedric the Entertainer) has three days to drive his family to a family reunion in Missouri. He is looking forward to showing his mother and competitive brother how perfect his family is and winning the coveted "Family of the Year" trophy. Unfortunately, his family is far from ideal: teenage Nikki (Solange Knowles) tries too hard to be sexy while son D.J. (Bow Wow) is obsessed with being a rapper and young Destiny is fixated on her imaginary pet. And worst of all, he is separated from his wife of sixteen years, Dorothy (Vanessa Williams). Of course, their road trip to Missouri is filled with every disaster one might expect (car accidents, a crazy hitchhiker, a stint in jail), but it all ends happily ever after.
Is it any good?
JOSEPH FAMILY VACATION movie isn't very funny or original. The plot is lame and unoriginal, but you would think the writers could infuse some much-needed humor to make it bearable. Unfortunately, most attempts fail miserably. A running joke is that Nate's lecherous Uncle Earl wants Dorothy -- he makes all sorts of sexual comments toward her and grabs her. It's creepy, not funny. Also, it's supposed to be hilarious when D.J. has to go to the bathroom and Nate refuses to stop so D.J. urinates in a cup and Nate almost drinks it and then accidentally throws it on a police officer -- again, not very funny (and also not very original since a nearly identical scene was in Dumb and Dumber).
With stars like Bow Wow and Solange Knowles (Beyonce's little sister), this movie has lots of kid appeal. Given that, it's disappointing that the writers focused so much on the sex lives of the parents instead of on the young stars that kids came to see. Although the Johnson family kids appear in many scenes, they aren't given much to do -- the movie should have been called The Johnson Parents because it is really about their broken relationship.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Nate and his brother wanted to win the "Family of the Year" competition so badly. They could also talk about whether or not it was realistic that the separated parents got back together. They might also talk about their own family trips and family reunions.
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