Directed By Roger Kumble
Starring Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Eshaya Draper, Donny Osmond
Martin Lawrence is one of those guys like Eddie Murphy that I always hope will succeed again. Both of these actors/comedians have done some really classic work but over the last several years have fallen on hard times. They haven’t innovated or even participated in really great films in way too long. I want to see Lawrence do something really funny again and even though this is a Disney movie I still had hopes that this film would feature some great Lawrence moments.
James Porter (Lawrence) is suffering from empty nest syndrome as his daughter contemplates going to college over 700 miles from home. When she is offered an opportunity to come to the college and meet with the administrators Potter decides rather than let her go with friends Potter decides to take her himself. Quickly this pseudo vacation becomes a typical Disney farce only this time led down the road of predictability by Lawrence doing his spastic panicked shtick.
This film attempts to do a lot with emotional connection and after school messaging but none of it comes across with any real heart. Everything feels contrived and formulaic as If the “four” writers, the director, and the composer sat down in preproduction and designed the movie based on a template that we’ve seen utilized many times before and usually used better. There doesn’t seem to be any heart or passion behind this film from the cast or crew, Sometimes a good bit of heart in a film like this can make up for story shortcomings. What we get is a series of extremes from ham fisted humor to melodrama that brings tears due to its overwhelming failure not the emotional effect it was going for.
So, basically College Road Trip is a terrible film, but Lawrence did manage to make me giggle a few times. He’s a funny guy and he can usually find a few opportunities in whatever project he’s doing to get some legitimate laughs. Unfortunately things that Lawrence typically does for laughs have to be cleaned up for this G rated film making those laughs even fewer and further in between than normal.
This is a Disney movie that’s been run through that Disney Channel machine. If you’ve seen other films or shows on the network this one fits right into that mold. So, if you have kids that appreciate Disney Channel programming then they may enjoy College Road Trip. For the rest of us this is definitely a pass. I’ve been waiting for that film that showcases Lawrence’s talent and unfortunately I’m still waiting.
This anamorphic widescreen presentation is a nixed bag. Black levels look good and detail is fairly high but flesh tones don’t handle the DVD compression that well coming off unrealistic. Overall though this is a nice video presentation.
This Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is mostly unremarkable but it works fine for this film. Dialogue, score, and effects are clean and well mixed and the surrounds do kick in for some music.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc release comes packaged in a standard amaray case with acceptable if unexciting artwork. Surprisingly the DVD actually has two audio commentaries. The first one features the director and actress Raven-Symone. This commentary reveals that the two got on well during the making of the film and they share some behind the scenes anecdotes with the director doing most of the talking. The second commentary features two of the four writers that worked on the script. This is an extremely dull commentary with the two writers offering very little information of interest. Honestly this second commentary seems like overkill for this particular film anyway.
Raven’s Video Diary is more interesting than you’d expect. She’s a bit too high energy throughout but beyond that she gets some great stuff on her own video camera of the real world on the set of the film. Mixed with her footage are snippets from her marketing interview session.
There’s a set of deleted scenes and alternate openings and endings. None of these deleted or alternate sequences are overly compelling or necessary. There’s a music video, a brief making of music video, a gag reel, and a trailer. Did anyone else notice that there’s no real “making of” featurette for the film?
Not much left to say here other than rent this one for your kids to check out if they like Disney Channel programming.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
The Movie 3/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10