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With Jim Sabatini

College Road Trip

College Road Trip
Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Eshaya Draper, Donny Osmond, Molly Ephraim and Joseph Gannascoli

Rated: G 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 7, 2008 Released by: Walt Disney Pictures

Martin Lawrence goes from Wild Hogs to a Houdini pig in the wholesome, vacuous College Road Trip.

This grating Disney romp takes on the family tradition rooted in the American Dream in the fashion of a live-action cartoon.

Lawrence's James Porter is a Chicago suburb police-chief dad, a security-minded control freak, who feels that the best education for independent-minded daughter Melanie (Raven-Symone) lies in nearby Northwestern University.

The main obstacle in the screenplay formulated by two pairs of writers goes from paternal resistance to Melanie's "girls only" trip to check out Georgetown University as an opening scene has her sights set on becoming a lawyer.

This "G"-rated fluff isn't really as crass as over-the-top with slapstick not far off from Lawrence's recent comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.

The hijinks, intermittently with family platitudes, plays like a buddy picture, this time with father and daughter, the former somewhat haywire and irascible, yet loving.

As James slips in an ancient disco era CD for Melanie as he takes her along to D.C. in his police SUV, some may really empathize with the picture's tagline, "They can't get there fast enough".

Along for the ride are Eshaya Draper as Porter's science-minded young son Trey, as well as Donny Osmond and Molly Ephraim, as a very chipper father and daughter out to check out prospective universities. Director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions, The Sweetest Thing) lets Osmond, especially, emote something much different than his Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway.

Perhaps the best comedic timing is by the Porter's cute, round porcine pet, Albert, who does his own wedding crashing and gets over-caffeinated in one scene.

Two of the big broad indignities come at the expense of one Mr. Arcara (Joseph Gannascoli), showered in chocolate or trampled on a putting green.

In light of the crazy situations presented with flair to those who ardently watch the Disney channel, the father/daughter story is underscored with the idea that everyone has room to mature. College Road Trip isn't afraid to dive down, even with an aerial sequence, or rolling down a hill, to make its points, as pronounced as they seem.

From Northwestern, to Pittsburgh, and Georgetown, the production brings much light and perky flavor through its scenic tour of Connecticut, from cities like Stamford and Bridgeport to Watertown and Wallingford, to accentuate the aura of prep schools and private academia.

As likeable as Lawrence and Symone (already rising to the ranks of executive producer in her breakout role) aim to be, the interplay between dad and Melanie is more than a bit precarious. Besides some in your face karaoke and the recurring "Double Dutch Bus", this Road Trip is speciously spiked by the wildly cheery Osmond and the potbelly havoc-wreaking piglets who played Albert.

  Frank Chris Jim Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
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