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 film is premised on a tedious sitcommish conceit: A father lies to his family about the reason for their vacation. The predictable road trip hijinks include problems with the RV's septic system (sewage exploding all over Robin Williams), sulky children, RV crashes and bad roads, mud and rain, wild raccoons, hip-hop bullies, and fellow travelers ridiculed for seeming "hick." These travelers include a mother who shows lots of skin and frequent cleavage. Children behave badly toward adults, adults behave badly toward children. Language includes sexual references; violence is comprised mainly of comic antics and pratfalls.
What's the story?
Though Bob (Robin Williams) means well, he's so caught up in efforts to "provide" for wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines) and two kids, Cassie (Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson), that he's lost track of their evolving lives and interests. Hoping to bring everyone together for a trip to Hawaii, Bob is stymied by his arrogant young boss Todd (Will Arnett), and decides to drive to Colorado in an RV instead, pretending it's another sort of vacation, though really it's a way for Bob to get to a business meeting and make a crucial presentation. No surprise, "roughing it" on the road involves a series of raucous physical gags: the septic tank explosion, the angry raccoons, the downpour, the RV's gradual demolition.
Is it any good?
Unoriginal and unfunny, Barry Sonnenfeld's RV puts yet another dysfunctional family though the paces of yet another summer vacation. Not only does the movie abuse its characters, it condescends to its viewers, presuming a lowest-denominator sense of humor. Sonnenfeld made Men In Black and Get Shorty: You know he can do better.
Bob and his family have numerous lessons to learn, including charity, responsibility, and honesty. They misjudge and deride a yahoo-seeming family, stereotypes that only amplify Bob's self-centeredness, which really doesn't need amplifying. We get it. He'll learn to be a better dad if only he can hit rock bottom. In this case, that involves being dragged and thrown by the runaway RV, chasing the RV into a lake, and riding his specially designed bike over mountain trails to the presentation, so he arrives muddied and ragged.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of families spending time together. How does Bob forget the need for this intimacy in his desire to provide for his family financially? How do the kids learn to "appreciate" their father when he admits his mistakes? Is all the gross-out humor necessary to make the movie entertaining?
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