RV: Runaway Vacation Review

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Workaholic Bob Munro (Williams) decides to repair his spoilt family’s estrangement by dragging them to Colorado in a monstrous RV. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong, uniting the dysfunctional clan against ongoing disasters — plus the kooky family wh


This film came out simply titled RV in the US, where Recreational Vehicles (or ridiculously big camper vans to the rest of us) are a beloved way of life. Supposedly at any given moment there are eight-and-a-half million of these things thundering along American roads. Since they go about four miles on a gallon of gas, this, at last, totally explains the Bush administration’s Middle East policy.

The good news — if you’re into the lightweight, slapstick family-road-trip genre begat by National Lampoon’s Vacation — is that it’s a Robin Williams comedy. The bad news is that it’s a Robin Williams comedy in which the characters learn the true meaning of family and it’s all meant to get quite, um, touching. So it’s pretty much interchangeable with a Steve Martin comedy. Speaking of comic talents gone soft, Barry Sonnenfeld’s downward career trajectory since the happy days of Addams Family, Get Shorty and Men In Black is painfully evident in an inoffensive film that is not entirely bereft of laughs, but milks the few it has to the point of tedium. These include the attack of the marauding raccoons, the indispensible sewage-disposal/shower-of-shit gag and Williams’ Chaplinesque antics rocking the RVover the precipice of Diablo Pass. (Perhaps, the sequel this so obviously sets up can incorporate the Grand Canyon, marauding bears and poison-ivy-as-toilet-wipes japes strangely left out this time.)

As this is a family-oriented picture, we have the obligatory sulking, insolent teenage daughter played by a pop princess (JoJo Levesque, who we must admit we wouldn’t be able to pick out of an identity parade despite her ‘multi-platinum-selling recording artiste’ CV) and the nicer, oddball kid brother (Josh Hutcherson as an insecure, weight-lifting 12 year-old rap fan). Bob’s exasperated wife Jamie is played by Cheryl Hines, who has honed her exasperated wifery skills up against Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. This trio are so gratingly unpleasant to poor dad — who’s only secretly preparing a business proposal on his laptop in campground toilets to fund their pampered lifestyles — that we wish the movie was about the Gornickes instead.

They are the jolly Country & Western-loving tribe led by Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth, who keep coming to the Munros’ rescue despite their scornful ingratitude. As the dreaded Munro daughter exclaims: “What do they like about us? We’re not even that appealing!” How true.

Williams’ virtuoso hijinking and Daniels’ Huggy Bearish bonhomie save this from complete ignominy, but we’ve seen it all before.