COLLEGE ROAD TRIP (2008)
This week it’s College Road Trip. You want to go to college? First you go on a road trip. Finally someone has made a movie out of this thing that happens in so many kids’ lives. Also, parental smothering! Yay?
James Porter (Martin Lawrence) is the proud police chief father of college-bound Melanie (Raven-Symoné). While he’s super supportive, he’s also crazily overprotective, and creepily controlling.
Here he can be seen hugging her while keeping an eye out to make sure no one else hugs her.
He wants her to go to Northwestern, mere minutes from his house, where he can keep a vigilant eye on her every move. She wants to go to Georgetown, on the other side of the country, probably because her father is a very frightening man. Meanwhile, her little brother Trey (Eshaya Draper) has created a breed of super-intelligent pig.
Aww, it’s adorably irrelevant to the plot!
Anyhow, the family ends up on a road trip to Washington. Melanie wants to see Georgetown, Dad wants to trick Melanie into thinking Georgetown is terrible, and Trey wants to inform the military about the existence of the super-pigs he’s created. The first stop is Northwestern, where Dad has the police officers he commands pose as students to trick Melanie into thinking Northwestern is the tits. He goes so far as to have one of them try to seduce her so that she’ll pick Northwestern for hot-guy-type reasons.
Boring road trip shenanigans follow. Yada yada yada, their car is destroyed.
It’s not as dramatic as the reaction shot would make it look.
They walk to a hotel that doesn’t accept pigs, so they disguise their pig as a baby. This works, but the pig eats a bunch of coffee beans, goes ape-shit, and jumps out a window.
There are no good jokes to make involving flying pigs.
And it lands in a wedding.
You have now seen the high points of this movie.
Anyhow, the family is able to continue their journey by hitching a ride with a musical-obsessed terror of a man (Donny Osmond) with his own college-bound daughter (Molly Ephraim). It’s almost fun!
And hey, it’s less creepy than Donny Osmond’s old music!
Road trip continues. Eventually, circumstances dictate that for Melanie to make it to her interview on time, she will have to jump out of a plane.
In the end she gets into Georgetown and Dad gets over it. More importantly, the end credits imply that the pig was integrated into the military.
Why wasn’t this the entire movie?
Oh, movie dads and daughters, why do you never send messages that aren’t terribly creepy? Like Superdad before it (more on that in a little bit), College Road Trip features a father who feels it is his right/duty to control every aspect of his daughter’s life. This is shown to be endearing, and at times admirable, when in reality it’s truly troubling. I mean, we are talking about a father who planned his daughter’s college career for her while she was still an infant. And the criteria had nothing to do with academic rigor; the only factor was keeping her close so he could continue to control her every move.
I wanted to make some kind of North by Northwestern joke here, but it just didn’t pan out.
There are points when it seems like this film is going in the right direction (the dad is shown to be somewhat misguided throughout) but the message is still somewhat questionable. In the end Dad reveals that he was just afraid that there would come a time that his daughter wouldn’t need him anymore. And hey, that’s more relatable than anything in Superdad.
Aww, his creepy actions come from a place of vulnerability.
His daughter replies that she’ll always need him. And while that seems kind of sweet, it does reinforce the idea that as a woman she needs more protection and coddling than another child might. I mean, jeez, her little brother just genetically engineered a genius pig to sell to the military without anyone noticing, and no one is trying to shield him from the world. That’s some ingrained sexism right there. Straight-A college-aged daughter wants to go to college of her choice – father freaks out, lies, and manipulates in order to keep her close to home. Preteen son breeds hyper-intelligent porcine creature, stows away in back of SUV, ruins fancy wedding – father doesn’t bat an eye. Hooray!
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
There is actually a decent amount of fun to be had in College Road Trip. Donny Osmond is fun. That god-damned pig is a blast. And there are even a handful of legitimately funny jokes. Sadly, the premise isn’t exciting enough to gain the movie any attention, and much of the film’s humor is killed by the fact that both Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné have a tendency to overact.
Just a little.
Also, there are times when the movie just seems like a vehicle for Raven-Symoné’s music career. There is a belabored subplot where Dad tries to make Melanie sing one of her favorite childhood songs, “Double Dutch Bus,” which, wouldn’t you know it, happens to be Symoné’s newest single.
And sadly her rendition is much less fun than the funky original.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
I know I keep mentioning it, but I truly believe that College Road Trip is an uncredited remake of Superdad. It goes beyond the fact that both films deal with overprotective fathers who are willing to go to great lengths to control their daughters. There are very specific scenes that occur in both films. In both, the father tracks the daughter down to an on-campus dwelling, but is not allowed inside by a frumpy yet hip woman who runs the establishment. The father then gets a ladder to try and peek in the window. This leads to shenanigans that land the dad in jail, where the daughter must bail him out.
It was creepy in 1973, and it’s creepy 35 years later too.
This very specific set of scenes, in a movie with a nearly identical theme, just reeks of plagiarism. But hey, I guess Disney owns both. And both writers of Superdad were dead by the late ’70s. Still seems like a bit of bullshit that neither of them got a story credit for this, though. Ah well, maybe it’s for the best for people to just forget that Superdad existed.
Looks like the next stop on this movie’s road trip should be Bargain Bin University. Yuk yuk yuk. Okay, it’s not really that bad. If you cut together all the parts of the movie with the pig in it and cut out all the parts about the college road trip, you might have a good time. Dammit, when am I going to get a movie that’s just about super-powered animals?