College Road Trip
by Laura Tucker
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“Baby Bird Leaving the Nest Against Her Father’s Wishes” is perhaps a theme we’ve seen very often, but then again, College Road Trip is a Disney movie, and we don’t usually get stunning new ideas with these films, anyway. The Disney family movies are meant to be entertaining, and in the long run, that’s what we get with this film.
You have to give it up for Martin Lawrence for coming so far in his career and personal life. While getting lots of heat for the jokes he performed earlier in his career, and arrests for weapons charges, among other things, he’s put all that behind him, appearing in much more peaceful roles. Watching him in this role, as an over-protective father/Chief of Police, it’s almost hard to believe he’s the same guy.
We don’t have to make that same jump with Raven-Symone. We first saw her as a young girl the last few years of the The Cosby Show, and when she resurfaced as a young teenager with her own show on Disney, she was pretty much the same. She’s just as likable as she was when she was a little girl and can still pull off the comedy in much the same ways. Her role as the college senior scoping out colleges is really no different than her role on her own show or The Cheetah Girls. It’s the same old Raven, which is exactly what pre-teen girls are expecting to see here, and surely what Disney is banking on with this film.
Raven’s character dreams of being a defense attorney after her success in a staged trial in her school where she represented the Big Bad Wolf, charged with destroying down the pigs’ homes. Her tagline is “A huff and a puff is not enough!” She wants to complete her schooling at Georgetown, but this competes with her father’s dreams of her going to his school of choice, Northwestern, with his five reasons for this being academics, distance, safety, distance, and distance. Northwestern is a 28-minute drive from home, as opposed to Georgetown, which is halfway across the country.
Scoring an interview at Georgetown, Raven and her father decide to travel to Washington, D.C., and check out this prospect together, but he’s secretly planned ways for this fail, all the while promoting Northwestern. They’re joined on the trip by her high-IQ brother who plays chess with his pet pig, a pig that Lawrence thinks is secretly stalking him. They meet another father and daughter on a similar trip, but can’t find any common ground with them and their need to sing annoying songs together, such as “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” When they finally bid farewell, they of course sing “So Long, Farewell” from Sound of Music. Making this bit even funnier is that the father is played by the ultra-clean Donny Osmond.
Again, with a plot device that has Lawrence craving the same relationship he used to share with his daughter, it’s a bit old. He wants to share everything and sing “Double Dutch Bus” together, but Raven is so concentrated on her efforts to grow up and gain independence that she claims to not even remember those times. Yet, despite the predictability and déjà vu, the film is still full of laughs, making a fun film for a family to enjoy together.
It reaches your emotions as well, as you watch father finally bid adieu to his daughter, and she walks in the door of the college of choice for the first time. With a high school freshman son and sixth-grade daughter of my own, it definitely touched me, something I never would have expected from a Martin Lawrence film.
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