Movie News & Reviews

A 'Road Trip' for the whole family

The modest charms of Disney's G-rated "College Road Trip" are best illustrated by what the filmmakers leave out more than what they choose to put in.

The 86-minute movie is happily free of cartoon-style violence, bad language and anyone who emulates the not-so-hot stylings of Paris Hilton. The only character acting out here is a Vietnamese potbellied pig named Albert, and that's only because the little porker wolfed down a can of coffee beans.

This is a family movie that parents can actually take young children to see and not cringe while they're watching -- no small point, since ads for "College Road Trip" have been running nonstop for the past month on the Disney and Nickelodeon channels.

What you get is, essentially, a movie about respect, with Martin Lawrence playing a control-freak dad learning how to let go of his not-so-little girl. Melanie (Raven-Symone) is a high-school senior who has been accepted into Northwestern, a 28-minute drive from home. But she really wants to go to Georgetown because it's better suited to her academic needs. (What a girl!)

So her police-chief dad plans a road trip. Initially, it's all about keeping an eye on Melanie and separating her from her best friends, a couple of straight-arrow types who wouldn't threaten the Osmond family. On the way to Georgetown, they actually meet Donny Osmond, who's on hand playing an over-the-top, over-involved father taking his own daughter (Molly Ephraim) on a college road trip.

For a movie that opens with the words "life lesson," the filmmakers refrain from hard-selling the messages. Lawrence looks relaxed and confident, no small feat when you're being upstaged by a chess-playing, caffeinated pig. He seems to understand that in a mildly agreeable trifle like this, less is more.