R.V. (2006) / Comedy-Adventure

MPAA Rated: PG for crude humor, innuendo and language
Running Time: 98 min.

Cast: Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, Hunter Parrish, Chloe Sonnenfeld, Alex Ferris, Will Arnett, Barry Sonnenfeld (cameo)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenplay: Geoff Rodkey

R.V. follows the same formula of the Vacation movies, complete with hapless father, unsupportive wife, precocious older sister, and mischievous younger brother.  We've seen other variations in recent years, most notably in Johnson Family Vacation and Thanksgiving Family Reunion, but in nearly all instances, these movies seem like desperate knock-offs on autopilot rather than truly funny, inspired family comedies.  The only thing different about this film is that it is set in an RV, which the creative minds behind the film milk for every possible humor aspect.  Needless to say, not much humor value here, folks.

The main premise is very basic, with a road trip filled with constant calamities, eccentric and dangerous oddballs, and situations where the father figure gets emasculated in front of his unappreciative family at every turn.  Williams (The Big White, Insomnia) plays patriarch Bob Munro, who seizes on the opportunity to make something for himself at work by contriving a road trip with his family in a massive rented recreational vehicle.  Unbeknownst to the fam, Munro is using the guise of a vacation in order to attend the presentation of an all-important possible merger of a soft drink manufacturer to his company.  Along the way, they are harassed by a kooky Texan family, have problems with the on-board septic system, and a myriad of other maladies that threaten to keep Bob from following through on his plans.

I've never been able to understand how one of the greatest minds in humor, Robin Williams, can't seem to see how unfunny most of the comedies he appears in truly are before he signs on.  Ironic that he fares far better in straight roles in serious films.  Williams does deliver on energy, but he has never really possessed a true talent for broadly physical comedy, and as scene after scene roll by, you'll probably find it impossible not to scratch your head and wonder why the man that can ad-lib classic comedic moments on stage and on late night talk shows can't seem to inject even one laugh in nearly two hours of pure comedy that he has worked on for weeks.

Although rated PG, there is an inordinate amount of scatological references thrown in that might not sit well with some families out there.  While these scenes may elicit a chuckle from the youngsters in the family, even giving the creative minds behind them the benefit of the doubt, the gags are more cringe-inducing than they are funny,  The screenplay is credited to Geoff Rodkey, who is no stranger to bad, low brow family comedies, already giving us such feeble entries as Daddy Day Care and The Shaggy Dog.  The pages of his script would have been put to better use as dog-poo picker-uppers at the local park -- just desserts for a movie filled with so much on-screen fecal matter, both literally and figuratively.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo