directed by Barry Sonnenfield
(Columbia, 2006)

RV, a dysfunctional-family road trip movie, isn't going to chart any new routes.

Exchange Robin Williams' Bob Munro character for the classic Clark Griswold of Chevy Chase and a business meeting for WallyWorld, and it could just as well be National Lampoon's RV, complete with the poop jokes, a bumbling dad, ungrateful kids and inept driving.

You've been over this road enough; you don't need a map. And yet, if the National Lampoon flicks are your style, you need to take this road trip.

Is RV mindless? Sure. Are its characters one-dimensional? Pretty much. Is its ending innovative? Not a bit. And yet, for a lightweight 99 minutes, it won't demand many of your brain cells and could deliver some laughter.

The Munros aren't anyone's definition of a close family. They are pulled in four directions at once, IM each other when dinner's ready and go through life plugged into different iPods.

When workaholic Bob is forced by his boss to cancel the family vacation to Hawaii, Bob knows better than to tell them the truth (he says later it's because he didn't want to disappoint them, but really, it seems to be because they're a bunch of cranky, spoiled people) and, instead convinces them that a cross-country trip in an unwieldy RV will bring them together again.

The fact that the trip will end up just where he's been assigned to attend a business meeting is, of course, purely coincidental.

And thus, the Munro Family Vacation gets off the ground, knocking over a few mailboxes along the way.

On the other side of the cheerfulness spectrum is the yodeling Gornicke family, the Randy Quaid equivalent in this National Lampoon knockoff. Bubbly Mary Jo (Kristin Chenoweth, showing her Broadway chops) and Travis (a guitar-wielding Jeff Daniels) lead the clan of Gornickes, who live in their RV and support themselves selling musical RV horns.

Sonnenfeld can't quite decide whether the Gornickes are to be ridiculed or envied -- but, of course, the "hicks" turn out to be not quite so stupid, or nearly as callow as the upscale Munros.

Mixed in with the family life lessons, when Williams gets all sentimental (ie, Your Job Is Not Your Life), are enough slapstick moments involving transportation and, yes, poop, to keep the whole thing glossing along.

Williams keeps his sometimes manic explosions mercifully under control most of the time, and appearances by Will Arnett (as the germophobe boss Todd Mallory) and, all too briefly, Tony Hale, bring more comedic relief, if not the wit of their late, lamented Arrested Development.

by Jen Kopf
3 March 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.