Johnson Family Vacation

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By: The Dweeb

 

August 2004

DVD Features

Video: 2.35:1 and 1.33:1Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Full-Length Audio Commentary by Cedric the Entertainer, Bow Wow, Director Christopher Erskin and Producer Eric C. Rhone
Full-Length Audio Commentary by Writers Todd R. Jones & Earl Richey Jones
Deleted Scenes and Outtakes with Optional Director’s Commentary
“Making-Of” Featurette 

Theatrical release:4/7/2004
DVD released on 8/10/2004 by 20th Century Fox
Running time of 96 minutes

Starring:
Cedric The Entertainer, Bow Wow, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Harvey, Vanessa Williams

Director: Christopher Erskin

Plot: AAA can’t help the roadside emergency that is the Johnson Family Vacation. Even the onboard navigation system has a meltdown on Nate Johnson and his family’s cross-country trek to their annual family reunion/grudge match. Reluctantly along for the ride are Nate’s wife, who’s only in it for the kids; their rapper-wannabe son; their teenage daughter who’s fashioned herself as the next Lolita; and their youngest, whose imaginary dog Nate just can’t seem to keep track of. Can the Johnson’s survive each other and all the obstacles the road throws at them to make it to Caruthersville, Missouri? Can they find Missouri?

 

 

Johnson Family Vacation is basically an update of Chevy Chase’s National Lampoons Vacation, although its a poor imitation. Maybe the producers were hoping that no one would notice this was almost a complete rip off of Vacation. I thought this movie would be funny, after all it labeled as a comedy right? I was wrong, or maybe its just me, I didn’t seem much humor in this. Oh there were some funny moments, but they were too far apart to make watching this worthwhile. I trudged my way to the end of yet another disappointment. Too bad, this film had a lot of potential.

I think there were too major problems that stick out right off the bat. First, it was poorly edited/written and it seemed like many sub plots never seemed to resolve themselves. Something would happen, and we never see the end result and then they were back on the road again suddenly. Huh? What was the deal with that semi truck? What ever happened to that stupid Chrishelle (Shannon Elizabeth) character? What is the significance of this so called “family of the year” contest? Who writes this stuff? That’s just a few examples that come to mind. Too many things were left unexplained and made things unclear.

The other major issue I had was the horrendous acting by almost everyone, including Cedric. To me it looked like nobody knows how to say their lines without sounding like a robot. Everyone was very flat and unconvincing. Watching Vanessa Williams act is like going to the dentist, makes your teeth hurt. I was expecting a little better from Cedric and Steve Harvey, they at least have an acting background. Oh, and that Uncle Earl character! Sorry Cedric, you are not Eddie Murphy, you can’t pull off playing multiple characters in the same movie.

Johnson Family Vacation was bland, predictable and fell into the many trappings of poor movie making. I just knew that Nate Johnson’s son (Lil Bow Wow) would bust into some kind of rhyme at some point. That little song and dance thing made me press fast forward right away. Also, little daughter Destiny (Gabby Soliel) can she try and not act cute? It wasn’t cute! It was stupid! I know I’m mean, but every time she did anything to be cute I just had to roll my eyes and groan. That isn’t a good sign is it?

A guess a sign that the studio didn’t put much stock into this film either is the DVD packaging. They include both a widescreen and fullscreen version, but to save some money they made it a single dual sided disc with a very small label indicating which side is which. Very annoying sitting there squinting at the disc trying to figure out which side is which.

The extras department included is fairly average. There are two commentary tracks for the film itself and there’s an extensive section of deleted scenes, almost too many to go through. I thought some of them were pretty good and should have been included in the film. There is also the standard promotional documentary where everyone praises each other for a job well done, but the rest of the disc is just commercials for other DVD’s and future films coming out of the Fox camp. I wouldn’t waste too much time watching this one.

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Reviewer’s Opinion: BORROW IT!!

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