College Road Trip is a universal story of children leaving the nest, and in this particular movie of a daughter headed for college with an over protective father planning her every step.
Martin Lawrence (Welcome Home Roscoe Brown) is the police chief in a small mid-western town, whos very proud of his daughter played by Raven Symone (Thats So Raven, The Cheetah Girls) who wishes to attend Georgetown University, miles, and miles away from home. James (Martin Lawrence) however, believes Northwestern is the best choice for his baby-girl Melanie, notwithstanding its a mere 40 miles from home.
Kim Whitley plays the wife and mother of the feuding pair and manages to bring peace by convincing the two to take a road trip to visit Georgetown, and grandma, but even more importantly to have a little one on one time with each other. This all seems such a logical move but when you add in the little brother Trey (Eshaya Draper) who happens to be a genius, his pet pig Albert, who is determined to give dad a heart attack and the unexpected clinging, sing song hoopla of Doug (Donny Osmond) and his daughter whom they meet and bond with along the way, youve got a road trip thats bound to be outrageous. Especially when dad takes an unexpected detour to visit Northwestern; the battle between the two is on, and after a change of heart on dads part, the road trip turns into a race against time to make sure she gets the opportunity of her dreams.
As a given rule road trips are either fraught with danger or comedy. The comedy in this movie hits you like a brick. Martin Lawrence is the master of comedic facial expressions and physical comedy. Without saying a word he can react to situations that make you laugh out loud, and this movie is filled with such instances. Couple that with the freshness of Raven Symon and her physical comedic style and youve got Lucy and Ethel meet Martin and Symone.
Symone also reminds you shes a talented singer and dancer. Her rendition of Double-Dutch Bus on a Japanese tour bus makes you want to dance in your seat. She takes on an entirely different appeal, truly establishing herself as a triple threat.
And while were on the subject of Symone, this was her first stint as an Executive Producer. Although she says shes had experience producing television shows; producing a movie is decidedly different, a lot more politics are involved. She says she paid close attention to every aspect of the production, and added input where needed, especially from a teenage point of view when it came to the characters.
College Road Trip in true Disney form is very multi-cultural. Most of the cast was selected from the Disney family of stars including Kim Whitley who played Symones Aunt Vickie on Thats so Raven. It was nice to see a toned down Whitley, who is also known for her wild and rather racy comedy. Martin Lawrence said that he was proud of the fact that she was selected.
Donnie Osmond was the movies big surprise. Although hes been in the entertainment business some 40 years this was one of his first movie appearances in 30 years. Know one expected Osmond to be as goofy and free-spirited as he was in this movie. When his character first meets Lawrences character, Osmond kisses Lawrence on the cheek, that was not in the script and totally unexpected, they say Lawrences screen reaction to the surprise kiss is genuine. Osmond said after the scene was shot, he and Lawrence had a good laugh.
Albert the pig also added a little extra flavor to the film. Lawrence said he originally questioned the producers about a black family owning a pig didnt seem very realistic. He added we dont own pigs, we eat them. But the pig stayed and added just a little more insanity to an extremely fun movie.
Road Trip is in theaters March 7. Visit www.strictlyhollywood.com and click on Movie Reviews to view clips and additional photographs from the film.
– Gail Choice is a writer/producer, e-mail her at gailchoice@strictlyhollywood.com.