May 11, 2006


I saw RV at the drive-in on Sunday. Early in the season, we were one of about six cars in the place. My buddy was in the backseat, his buddy was riding shotgun. Unlike the theatre, I couldn't expect total silence and focus on the film. I couldn't hope to decipher every nuance and plot turn. Between the conversation and in car banter, I had to grab was snippets I could.
RV is the perfect drive-in movie. Take the plot of any National Lampoon's Vacation sub out Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo's breasts, sun in Robin Williams and Cheryl Hines's believability, and you've got this movie. Not having to learn a new plotline or story was a Godsend. Some business about corporate speeches, Jeff Daniels and Co. as a smarter less disgusting substitute for Cousin Eddie's clan and fountains of feces that will land on Robin Williams at least twice. Got it.
What's left after you muddle through that are charisma and punch lines. Robin Willams and Cheryl Hines are just plain better actors than Chase and D'Angelo. Vacation will always be the classic, because it was the first, but I believed these characters more. The snide back and forth retorts reminded me of my family. So did the inevitable warmth beneath them. The kids are neither cute nor likable, and for a girl like Joanna "JoJo" Levesque — who has worked so hard to attain the status of a slightly classier manufactured Duff-esque preteen pop idol &$151; being believably unlikable is really sort of courageous. But nor are they unholy terrors like those brats from Are We There Yet?. If they wind up a little TOO sweet by the end, well, that's probably the better side to err on anyway. I liked them all in spite of (or perhaps because of) how imperfect they were. Hell, I even liked the Gornickes though, anti-social as I am, I'd never want to actually meet them.
The Vacation movies had better gags, and what you see here will remind you of them — and many others. It's a fond sort of recollection though, like sitting in front of the TV at 3 in the morning and letting a movie you haven't seen in years make the insomnia a little more tolerable.
So, in the end, while I definitely think there's better movies to see out there right now, there's a hell of a lot worse, and at least this one made me laugh. Laugh, yes, and even smile.. ()


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