Martin Lawrence starring in a G-rated, Disney film? Has the former hip-hop bad boy comedian gone soft? In his latest film, Lawrence hooks up with Nickelodeon star, Raven-Symoné in the mildly-funny family comedy, “College Road Trip.”
Police chief James Porter is certified control freak. While that trait may serve him well in law enforcement, it is wreaking havoc on his relationship with his daughter, Melanie (Symoné).
Melanie is a star student who has aspirations to attend Georgetown. Her father, who wants to keep her close to home, wants her to go to Northwestern. Using tactics that would make Senator Hillary Clinton proud, Porter rounds up his deputies to trick his daughter into thinking that Northwestern is party central. Once she discovers her father’s underhanded game, Mel is determined to follow her dream and go to school in the Nation’s Capitol.
The two decide to conduct a college road trip that would serve dual purposes, to get information on various schools for Mel and also help the distrustful father bond with his blossoming-independent daughter.
It appears that Lawrence who starred in several films that did mediocre business is follwing the model established by Eddie Murphy. Instead of headlining films that tank, Lawrence is content to share top-billing and make slightly better films which relieve the pressure for him to be THE star. Earlier this year, Lawrence employed the same strategy in “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” with better results.
His “Daddy Dearest” act in “College Road Trip” grows tired quickly, but the emergence of star/producer Symoné’s physical antics help keep the action moving. In a bit of stunt casting that works, former child star Donnie Osmond gets his share of laughs as a “singing” parent whose child is the other half of their hilarious musical act.
With a super-syrupy, yet predictable ending, “College Road Trip,” chugs along to lukewarm ending. While not nearly as bad as it could be, the film overachieves and should provide a welcome family entertainment alternative. While the “trip” is not always good, it does just enough to get you where you need to go.