Reviewed by: Mia J. Best
|Featuring:||Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symoné, Effrem J. Adams, Dennis Albanese, Rachel Barker, Andrew Bradley, Emily Rose Branigan, Gail Bugeja, Jennifer Cahill, Geneva Carr, Joey Chanlin, Grizz Chapman, Tara Copeland, Greg D'Agostino, Jon Daly, Kaitlyn Delaney, Sarah Derene, Molly Ephraim, Alexander Fagan, Julia Frisoli, Joseph R. Gannascoli, Les Gardonyi, Andrew Goldfarb, Christopher Jon Gombos, Lucas Grabeel, Margo Harshman, Amy Hohn, Edward James Hyland, Eugene Jones III, Jason Kolotouros, Kristian Kordula, Kate Lacey, Michael Landes, Joe Lo Truglio, Joel Mack, Matt Marcella, Michael McDerman, Patrick Thomas McMahon, Nicholas Leiter Mele, Donny Osmond, [more]|
|Producer:||Louanne Brickhouse, Kristin Burr, Andrew Gunn, Anthony Katagas, Ann Marie Sanderlin|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
“They just can’t get there fast enough.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Choosing which college to go to can be the most exciting and thrilling time of a young woman’s life, unless your overprotective father isn’t quite ready to let you go. In the Disney family comedy COLLEGE ROAD TRIP, 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 overbearing police chief father (Martin Lawrence) insists on escorting her instead, she soon finds her dream trip has turned into a hilarious nightmare adventure full of comical misfortune and turmoil.”
The comedy is broad, the hi-jinks are outlandish, and the slap-stick is of the Lucille Ball variety in Disney’s G-rated film, “College Road Trip,” starring Martin Lawrence and Raven Symone. Disney doesn’t disappoint its core audience of families with toddlers and “tweenagers” (children between the ages of 9-12) with its predictable formula for comedy—loving family with beautiful female lead, check; comedic father (usually clueless), check; genius younger sibling, check; super intelligent animal, check; and friends from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, check. But even though much of the dialogue is cliche, and the jokes are familiar, they still provoke belly-tickling laughter.
The movie opens with James Porter (Lawrence) narrating about a father’s fear of losing his little girl, which he thinks can be managed with obsessive planning. So since his daughter, Melanie (Raven) was just a baby, her dad, who happens to be the police chief, has tactically mapped out her life the way one would plan an undercover sting operation. His plan for keeping his little girl safe and close to home after high school is for her to attend nearby Northwestern University. The conflict is that Melanie, an aspiring lawyer, has a chance to interview for admission at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, which is more than 600 miles from home.
James’ fears are heightened when he overhears his coworkers bragging about their wild college days. So rather than let Melanie ride to Georgetown with her friends, he ambushes her by organizing his own “father-daughter” college road trip with a few strategic (and some genuine) surprises along the way. Melanie’s mother Michelle (Kim E. Whitely) stays at home while her little brother Trey (Eshaya Draper) stows away with his pet pig Albert.
It is refreshing it is to see Martin Lawrence, who built much of his comedic career on crass humor laced with profanity, as a caring, albeit overprotective, father. This is a polar opposite to the character in Lawrence’s other 2008 release “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.” Lawrence and Raven are both veterans with physical comedy and play well as father and daughter. But it’s the pet pig Albert that garners some of the heartiest laughs.
Special guest star Donny Osmond plays Doug, an exuberant, show-tune-singing father along with his college bound daughter Wendy (Molly Ephraim). This duo’s enthusiasm is played to the extreme-sport level, as if they are competing for a gold medal of optimism. And, though jarring at first, their characters become endearing by the end of the film.
The film’s message to parents is to realize that your babies will grow up, and eventually you have to trust them to make their own decisions.
There is tremendous pressure on parents to worry about their children. When a child prepares to go to college, parents are expected to experience separation anxiety. Worry can turn a sound mind into a fearful and paranoid one, like Lawrence’s character James Porter. But the Bible clearly tells us that fear, which is another form of worry or anxiety, is not of God.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God did not give us a spirit of fear, and in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has torment. God does not bless us with children to be in torment. And Jesus taught that worry is wasted energy, in Matthew 6:27 when he said,
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.” —(NLT)
For parents who may be tempted to worry about their children, Proverbs 22:6 reassures us that if we teach our children to choose the right path, when they are older, they will remain upon it.
Each child has a purpose. Psalm 139:13 says that God knew us in our mother’s womb before we were born. Just like Jesus, each of us is born with a purpose. If parents raise their children in the way they should go, which is teaching them to live a godly life, then they must trust God to take them the rest of the way and help them discover their purpose.
I would recommend this movie for Christian audiences for its appeal to all families and its moviemaking quality. I do not recall the Lord’s name taken in vain once or the use of any profanity throughout the film. The violence was limited to two characters getting shocked by a Taser and a comedic duel with golf clubs. The closest thing to a sexual reference was Melanie finding a male character attractive. Melanie did, however, lie to her father once and did not show remorse for it. This was her way of acting out against his controlling nature.
In Ephesians 6:1 the Bible tells children to obey their parents. And in that same chapter in verse 4, it instructs fathers not to provoke their children to wrath. The Message Bible states it this way,
“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.”
By the end of the film, James comes to terms with the fact that his little girl Melanie is no longer little and begins to listen to her plans rather than trying to institute his plans.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.