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7/6/17

RV - REVIEW


Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, RV was a family comedy released in 2006 about a father's Hawaii holiday plans falling through due to work being dumped on him at the last minute and his messy attempt at a backup holiday as he loads his family in a cheap RV and heads for the Rockies.

Road trip movies about people being forced to jump in a clunky vehicle before facing various goofy adventures aren't exactly a rarity: from the National Lampoon's Vacation films to About Schmidt, Little Miss Sunshine, an entire season of Weeds, Dumb & Dumber and many others, it's something of a comedy tradition so finding a new take on it isn't exactly easy. It's a weird challenge for a talented director like Sonnenfeld to take up but if someone could make it work, it would be him. Robin Williams is Bob Munro, the father who leads his family into a predictably disastrous holiday that's really just an excuse to secretly attend a work meeting, and he brings just the right amount of energy and cynicism to the role. Pretty much anyone else playing this part would have dragged this film down to below average but he handles it well, even if the infamous poo scene doesn't make this the most dignified role in the actor's career. Solid support is offered by a very good Jeff Daniels and the ever-reliable Cheryl Hines, Will Arnett and Kristin Chenoweth.

Nothing wrong with the cast, then, but what about the film itself? Story-wise, there's really not much there and Bob's central struggle doesn't feel all that necessary or convincing. The secrecy surrounding this plot as Bob constantly tries to hide the fact he's got work to do from his family feels a little slight and I can't imagine anyone doing that in real life. Clark Griswold counting on a work Christmas bonus and promising his family a big holiday in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation made sense because Clark was always portrayed as a bit of an over-optimistic idiot but Bob is just a normal, rather uptight guy who suddenly acts like a guilty 5 year-old for no reason. His kids, one of which is played by a young Josh Hutcherson, are mostly dislikable and they never get to do or say anything funny. Luckily, there are some laughs here and there, mostly thanks to Williams, Daniels and some well timed slapstick, so RV at least works on a basic family comedy level.

Believe it or not, RV is funny and charming enough to make it an enjoyable enough Netflix watch or rental. It doesn't do anything new for that type of movie, it's pretty much predictable the entire time but it's well made, the cast is good and it never gets annoying so you could do a lot worse.

Harmless enough road-trip romp.

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