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College Road Trip (2008)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 7/15/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie:
Video:
Audio: 1/2
Extras:

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/9/2008

When we see advertisements or marketing for a movie, we are usually seeing the film's main story. Thus, it follows that when we seek out a movie, we are interested in that main story. But, most films have subplots (ADD aside: It would be interesting to compile a list of movies which don't have subplots), and, at times, those subplots or minor characters steal the show. Martin Short runs away with Father of the Bride and Hank Azaria was robbed of an Oscar in The Birdcage. In College Road Trip, one would expect consummate ham Martin Lawrence to run away with the film, but in reality, itís another kind of ham altogether which makes the movie memorable.

Martin Lawrence stars in College Road Trip as James Porter, police chief and father. From birth, heís indoctrinated his daughter, Melanie (Raven-Symone), that when itís time for her to go to college, she will attend nearby Northwestern, so that he can keep an eye on her. But, now Melanie is a high-school senior and an A student, and she has her eyes on other schools. When Melanie learns that she has a chance to attend Georgetown, she and her friends, Nancy (Brenda Song) and Katie (Margo Harshman), plan a road trip to see various schools. At first, James is against this, but then he decides that it will look better if he plays along, so he volunteers to take Melanie to Georgetown (in his police SUV). Of course, all of Jamesí good intentions fly out the window, as the trip is littered with problems. Will Jamesí lose Melanieís trust if the trip is a disaster?

On the surface, College Road Trip is a mediocre film at best. With the main story, there is nothing original happening. Only the most naive or inexperienced viewer will find any of James and Melanie's story surprising. The jokes are fairly standard, and while some may be mildly amusing, they don't make the movie worth watching. We get a mixture of semi-clever lines and physical comedy which doesn't add up to much. And, of course, there's Raven-Symone. Raven is certainly an acquired taste, and I, for one, find her annoying. She's not funny, but she was apparently very astute when she was on The Cosby Show, as she's great at mugging for the camera.

However, if you give the movie a chance, and dig a little deeper, you'll find something to like. The first thing which should jump out at you is that Martin Lawrence is in a rated G movie. Let me repeat that -- Martin Lawrence is an a rated G movie. And, I never got the feeling that he was having to reel himself in. As evidenced by films like Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Lawrence can play the straight man, but he still clearly feels the need to "go there", as it were. Here, he reins himself in somewhat mostly reacts to the odd events around him, while trying to keep it together.

But, that's not what makes College Road Trip worth seeing. You see, James has a young son named Trey (Eshaya Draper), who is a young scientist. Trey has a super-intelligent pig named Albert, who James thinks is out to get him. Despite the fact that no one else believe him, James always catches the pig staring at him. Along with Albert, there is an extended cameo by Donny Osmond as an overly excited father who is always on a college road trip with his daughter. As odd as it may sound, it is a pig and Donny Osmond worth seeing. Director Rober Kumble (wait for it...of Cruel Intentions) also made the off-kilter comedy Just Friends and he's friends with The Farrelly Brothers. Apparently, he was determined to bring a quirky edge to this Disney film and does so with these characters. Osmond is like Tim Robbins character from The Sure Thing, but 1000x more giddy. These scenes play as if they are in a different movie, and the moments with the pig are truly hilarious.

To say that College Road Trip is a mixed-bag would be an understatement. The main story will be touching to anyone with children, but otherwise it's fairly trite and pedestrian. Martin Lawrence is good, but I still don't see the appeal of Raven-Symone. Again, it's the little moments which make the movie worth seeing. I never thought that I'd see a pig and Donny Osmond save a movie, but I'm glad that I did.

College Road Trip travels cross-country on DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-screen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fine and the image is never overly bright. However, quick movements by either the camera or the actors produce some video noise. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a family comedy, most of the sound comes from the center channel. During certain scenes however, there is some noticeable stereo and surround action, and one scene involving the car produces some good bass.

The College Road Trip DVD contains a selection of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Roger Kumble and actress Raven-Symone. This is a fairly good talk, as Kumble is clearly a funny guy. The two share anecdotes about the making of the film, and Kumble lets us know where the ideas for the pig and Donny Osmond came from. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with writers Emi Mochizuki and Carrie Evans. This commentary isn't as good, as the two simply don't have as much to say. I get the feeling that their original script went through many changes (they didn't come up with the idea for the pig!), so they can only comment on what they know.  "Raven's Video Diary" (10 minutes) shows Raven-Symone wandering the set with a video camera interviewing cast members and the director, and describing what making a movie is like. For some reason, Eshaya Draper's audition tape is right in the middle of this. The DVD contains 10 DELETED SCENES which run about 12 minutes and can be viewed with optional commentary from Director Roger Kumble. While none of these scenes are great, some are entertaining. It's clear that some were cut for time, but I would guess that one, which contains a brief fight scene, was trimmed to keep the G rating. In addition, we also get an "Alternate Opening" and "Alternate Ending", both of which have optional commentary. Neither of the alternate endings are very good. There is a 3-minute GAG REEL. The DVD offers the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Double Dutch Bus", performed by Raven-Symone, and "On the Set: Double Dutch Bus" (3 minutes), which shows the making of the video.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has also brought College Road Trip to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. This isn't necessarily the sharpest Blu-ray that I've seen, but the image is so clear that one stops looking for any issues after a while. The picture is well-balanced, and nicely detailed. The landscape shots have a good depth. The Disc has a Linear PCM 5.1 lossless audio track which runs at 48 kHz and 6.9 Mbps. Again, this really isn't the movie to show off one's audio system, but the dialogue and sound effects are always sharp and clear. The stereo and surround effects are much more pronounced here, especially during crowd scenes and with musical cues. That one scene with the car produces some palpable subwoofer action.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long