Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone. Family comedy. Written by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Emi Mochizuki. Directed by Roger Kumble.
FILM SYNOPSIS: Melanie (Raven-Symone) is eagerly looking forward to her first big step towards independence when she plans a girls only road trip to check out prospective universities. But when her overprotective police chief father (Martin Lawrence) insists on escorting her instead, she soon finds her dream trip has turned into a frustrating nightmare adventure full of comical misfortune and turmoil.
PREVIEW REVIEW: This is one of those films that must be graded on a curve. Credit must be given to the filmmakers for their desire to make a clean comedy. Martin Lawrence in a G-rated movie? Points for that. But its also a comedy where mugging, eye-rolling and a whole lot of slapstick pass for wittiness.
Its nice to see a gentle comedy, but the soul of comedy demands some bite. Alas, though everyones heart was it the right place, this one is toothless. There, thats said for adults looking for satire or bawdiness. Now for the analysis most useful for little ones and accompanying parents.
What a pleasure to see a comedian such as Martin Lawrence, renown for his sharp-tongued, but often crude wit, aim an entire movie at the family. Though much of the films humor depends on excessive behavior, Mr. Lawrence manages to give his over-protective father a charm and warmth. And the story doesnt just use the father-lets-his-daughter-go plotline as a source of humor, but also manages to poignantly examine how parents feel when their child leaves the nest. Fathers will relate to the films protective papa, nodding their head as Mr. Lawrence deals with his daughters obliviousness to her dads distress.
Raven-Symone is a competent co-star, letting Mr. Lawrence do all the heavy lifting, yet supporting the comedy structure. She plays the straight man, if you will, much like Dean Martin did for Jerry Lewis for ten years before audiences realized Dean was funnier.
Added to the main storyline, theres the other child, a Poindexter type genius-in-training who plays chess with a pet pig and sends offers of assistance to the Secretary of Defense. And of course, Pops and the pig dont get along. But, they are family, so even they stick together when problems arise.
Its all silly. And to enjoy the silliness, it helps to be in a lighthearted mood, being open to silly antics. It also helps to have little ones in tow. Children in the screening audience quickly took to the movies characters. The parents next to me seemed to enjoy the film based on their little girls reactions. She loved the mugging, the eye-rolling and, yeah, the chess-playing pig.
Funny, family fun, its slapstick with a heart. Folks, were always complaining that Hollywood doesnt provide family entertainment. Heres one. Im guessing Martin Lawrence makes more of them if this one does well.