Top positive review
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A genuine family-friendly comedy that's actually funny
on November 22, 2006
If you want a good, safe comedy the whole family can enjoy, RV fits the bill. Sure, it doesn't exactly break any new ground, but the reason they keep making family vacation comedies like this is because they tend to be pretty entertaining -- especially when a Robin Williams is featured in the cast. There's more to this film than mere comedy, of course, as it has a lot to say about family. The plot synopsis describes this family as dysfunctional -- this could not be more wrong. This is a completely normal family that almost everyone can identify with. Bob Munro (Robin Williams) works hard to support his family, worries that he's going to lose his job to some stuck-up kid fresh of college, his wife has to deal with the pressures of getting the kids everywhere they need to go while also taking care of everything on the home front, and the kids are distant and always complaining (i.e., they're teenagers). If this is dysfunctional, then America is overflowing with dysfunctional families.
When his boss pulls the rug out from under Bob's upcoming business trip (with family) to Hawaii and replaces it with a scheduled presentation in Colorado, Bob tries to make up for the disappointment by renting an RV and spending some quality time with his family on the way to the Centennial State. He knows he is running out of time if he's ever going to reconnect with his kids, Cassie (Joanna "JoJo" Levesque) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson). No one is excited at the prospect, and the trip gets off to a bumpy start, but the Munro family soon rolls its way into many a comical situation. Naturally, you have a whole sequence built around emptying the RV's sewage tank and the obligatory face-off against nature (raccoons, in this case), but you also have the family's encounter(s) with the Gornicke family. Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth put on a great show as seeming bumpkins who just keep popping up, despite the Munros' efforts to avoid them. They're good people, though, even though they do come across as a little bit too happy -- and they enjoy a kind of closeness with one another that Bob dreams of rediscovering with his own wife and kids.
Juggling the rigors of the whole RV experience while surreptitiously trying to get a presentation written is a challenge, and then Bob still has to figure out a way to get to his meeting without his family knowing about it. It's just the kind of thing to bring everyone together in the end, though - or maybe not. Either way, it makes for quite a memorable family outing.
There is a lot of physical comedy in the film, which Robin Williams pulls off with his trademark ease. I think Williams is funniest when he gets into one of his manic, fast-talking states of random weirdness, but his character is pretty restrained in this regard. That disappointed me a little, but that's just a matter of me asking this film for something it wasn't designed to give me. It's still a very funny movie with great performances all around, and -- as I mentioned earlier -- it's a lot more family-friendly than most comedies being produced these days. That makes it a real winner, in my book.