Reviewed by: Keith P. Soencksen
|Featuring:||Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jojo Levesque, Joanna Levesque|
|Director:||Barry Sonnenfeld (“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”)|
|Producer:||Bobby Cohen, Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick|
“On a family vacation, no one can hear you scream.”
RV is the kind of movie you go to when you’re looking for a good laugh at the expense of the unfortunate family portrayed in the film, who endure untold mishaps upon mishaps. It delivers several very funny moments, but viewers must endure a seemingly endless line of crudeness (occasionally to the point of disgusting), rudeness, and immodesty along the way.
Robin Williams plays Bob Munro, the high-ranking executive of a large soda beverage firm. Disaster first strikes as the family attends an office party, resulting in Munro almost getting fired. His continued employment, says his boss, is conditioned upon Bob attending meetings in Colorado aimed at acquiring the smaller Alpine Soda Company. Unfortunately, the business meetings coincide with a planned family vacation to Hawaii, plans which Bob must now carefully change in such a way as to meet the expectations of both his boss and his family, without either of them knowing about the other. He hastily invents the concept of an RV trip to Colorado, and although his wife and kids are far less than enthused, they embark onto one painful misfortune after another. Bob’s wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines), 15-year old daughter Cassie, and 12-year old son Carl hold back nothing in expressing their displeasure with the trip throughout most of the movie.
Early in their journey, the Munro’s happen upon the Gornicke family, an odd couple with 3 children, who are expert, full-time RV’ers. Travis (Jeff Daniels) and Mary Jo (Kristin Chenoweth) seem to have it all together, though in a geeky sort of way, and from the start, the Munro’s try to distance themselves. Predictably, the Gornicke’s seem to show up at every turn, much to the chagrin of the Munro’s.
A series of calamities (some are rather gross, most are fantastically unrealistic) involving everything from raw sewage, to raccoons, to bad brakes, and bad weather eventually drive the Munro family to their knees. Meanwhile, Bob is struggling to please his boss via secret, but unreliable e-mail traffic. In the end, Bob realizes that trying to please both his family and his boss just won’t work. He opts for his family, who all pull together in the end. But because of the high level of dysfunction displayed throughout the story, the somewhat touching ending is not believable.
Perhaps most troubling is that the entire premise of the Munro’s fateful trip is founded upon a gigantic lie, perpetrated by Bob, which places career ahead of family. This is later justified as being ultimately for the family’s materialistic best interests when Bob says, “I have to get to that meeting or I lose my job and we lose a lifestyle.” Luke 12:15 and Proverbs 23:4 are only two of dozens of verses that speak loudly against greed, covetousness, and materialism. Though he comes to his senses late in the movie, it’s a little too late to be plausible, and genuine repentance doesn’t seem to be there. Beyond this, there is repeated dishonesty and deception throughout: faking illness to his boss and family, lying to the Gornicke’s as a means of avoiding them, etc.
Next would be all the nasty bickering within the Munro family, especially the almost extreme disrespect shown by the children toward each other and their father. References are made to Cassie giving Bob the finger, they lie often, speak with utter contempt for each other and their father, display complete selfishness, and all this without consequence. We can safely assume these kids have rarely been disciplined, and have never heard of the fifth commandment.
Though nudity and strong sexuality are absent, immodesty is rampant (1 Timothy 2:9), particularly in the character of Mary Jo Gornicke, who showed cleavage in every shot—male viewers will be distracted. Although society considers this desirable, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart” (Matt 5:28). It’s a very high standard, but one we must not yield on. Cassie Munro’s wardrobe is not as bad, but not modest by any stretch.
The Gornickes are clearly portrayed as quirky, out-of-touch, and basically obnoxious. What’s troubling about this is a vague identification of this family with Christianity. At one point, the scantily-clad Mary Jo is talking to the Munros, who are frantically trying to get away from them. She says, “Can I tell you about the time Jesus saved us from a tornado?!” With this, the Munro’s are that much more desperate to escape the conversation. This tie to Christianity, however brief, ultimately comes down to little more than mockery. The Gornicke kids are also home schooled, which draws a sarcastic “Ooohhhh” reaction from the Munro’s, who seem to have written them off as wackos.
This is a predictable yet fairly entertaining movie, but its only redeeming quality is soundly outweighed by negatives. None of these negatives, by themselves, are overly oppressive, but the combination of them all earns “RV” the overall assessment of “Offensive” in my view, though some may find that an over-reaction. In truth, the morality rating ranges somewhere between “Offensive” and “Average.” Bob’s overemphasis on career only changes in the final 15 minutes, and is overshadowed by numerous instances of sexual immodesty, arrogant, dishonoring teenagers, and an annoying level of mild cursing (b*tch, a**, Oh my God!). The entire plot is founded on Bob deceiving his family into a trip with ulterior motives. This is definitely not a movie for kids—impressionable teens may be influenced by the worldly character of this film.
Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild