Johnson Family Vacation
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This film is basically an urbanized version of the Griswold family movies, featuring Chevy Chase and his ragtag family of goofs, but it seems to have copied that series' final installment entitled VEGAS VACATION (the least funny one), as opposed to the original and best, VACATION. This movie follows the Johnson family from L.A. to Missouri for a family reunion, with a number of misadventures along the way...not "funny" misadventures...just misadventures, period.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I really wanted to like this movie, especially since I'm a fan of Cedric the Entertainer, and don't think he's caught his "big break" in the movies yet, have always been a fan of Vanessa Williams, particularly her gorgeous eyes and tight little body, but no matter how much I tried, no matter how much I prayed that some of the spirit from the original National Lampoon VACATION flicks would filter through to this one, this film just stunk up the joint with tired gags (listen to a man farting/shitting in bathroom), idiotic sketch pieces (Cedric gets stuck naked in a hot-tub and four fat women join in), bad acting (someone tell Bow Wow that "acting" doesn't mean "overreacting" all the time) and a story that's about as flavorless as its cliched ending, featuring a reconciliation that everything and their uncle Earl sees coming miles away.
In retrospect, I should have doubted the film's pureness when I realized that 3 of the 4 lead "actors" were also known as singers in real life. It showed too, as only Cedric the Entertainer seemed like he was really trying, and even delivered a handful of funny one-liners, and a decent over-the-top secondary character, named Uncle Earl (you couldn't understand a word the man was saying) Other than that, the film barely lasts an hour and a half, doesn't allow Williams to go all "Beverly D'Angelo" on us with zero skin, jams as many rap & R&B tunes as it could through its lame plotline, and even tosses an incredibly unfunny and unnecessary cameo in there by Shannon Elizabeth, who apparently needs a gig...bad! This film isn't even worth a rental, folks. Rent the original Chevy Chase VACATION flicks instead and keep waiting until Cedric finally gets a movie worth his talent. Those big-ass hamburgers were pretty funny though.
This DVD brings with it 2 commentary tracks, one of which features its star/producer, Cedric the Entertainer, director Christopher Erskin, producer Eric C. Rhone and Bow Wow and the other featuring the film's two writers, Todd R. Jones and Earl Richey Jones. Both tracks are standard stuff, with the first one offering more of a consistent conversation between everyone involved (although Bow Wow's stuff had clearly been added in), and the second one offering more of an outsider's point of view. One very interesting tidbit that I learned from the 2nd commentary (which helped explain the film's lackluster plotline and humor) was that the writers actually got the film greenlit on a "pitch". In other words, they hadn't even written the script and the studio was hip to make it...generally not a good sign of a great story!
The disc also features about a dozen or so deleted/extended scenes (lasting about 25 minutes in all), most of which are centered around the end of the movie's family reunion, and most of which, were cut for obvious reasons (namely unfunniness) You can listen to the director's commentary over the scenes as well. You also get a 10+ minute "making off" featurette, which stretches out a little longer than the usual ones, but basically covers the same stuff, including interviews with most of the cast members, all of whom agree that it was "great" working with one another and that the film is very funny. The disc also features a trailer for the BILL COSBY: HIMSELF DVD, a plug for the film's lame soundtrack, as well as a 5-minute "Inside Look" at another upcoming Fox film starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon, called TAXI. In regards to that film, I say to you: "Be afraid...be very afraid".
A misfire. I liked the idea of an "urban" version of the VACATION flicks, especially with Cedric the Entertainer as the lead man, but the lack of charisma and acting chops between the rest of the singers in the cast, alongside an unfunny script just didn't do it for me. The disc does contain enough extras for a fan of the movie to enjoy, but you're better off renting this sucka to see if you even enjoy it, since there's a good chance that you won't.