Johnson Family Vacation DVD: Review By justincase

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
National Lampoon's Vacation gets an urban update for 2004. Instead of the Griswold's family truckster, Nate Johnson rolls his posse in a low-ridin' 3-wheelin' media-savvy Lincoln Navigator with a full set of "spinners". Cedric the Entertainer and Vanessa Williams drop into the Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo roles (this time estranged from, one would imagine, urban family pressures), parenting on the road (to their trio of offspring) en route to a family reunion in the mid-west.

Our recently separated urban dwellers embark on a preposterous roadtrip across the country in a pimped-out luxury SUV. Every beat of this thing smells of musty old-school National Lampoon. Misadventure and comic antics aside (because there weren't any that were worth a damn), this thing is tired and played-out. That doesn't stop our production team, though, from throwing some awkward physical comedy, weak urban gags, gross-out yuks and a smattering of situational humor at us. Somebody please explain to me how a mini-alligator ends up sneaking into a hotel room through a ventilation duct... Better than that... WHY did we see Shannon Elizabeth in this film? Isn't a deceased and abandoned grandmother funnier? Yeah. Come to think of it, she was. Our hapless family gets road-raged by a semi, cemented by a road construction crew and runs out of gas... they even end up in the slammer... Why is it that the urban version of the family road-trip misadventure pic lands the crew in the pokey? But I digress.

Upon arrival at the reunion, our family learns a little and grows closer, despite the antics and mishaps...of course. Set against a family reunion competition, the family growth story is reasonably entertaining, but nothing to stay awake for. Even the "surprise" appearance by our erstwhile trucker from early in the picture (amazingly and for no apparent reason, Dorothy's studdy-buddy) fails to even phase the audience as we feel, by this time, like there is no limit to the disjointed, disconnected bits that we're force-fed. It's almost as if the makers of the film are challenging us to finish this piece of work.

You know that I'm P-I-M-P.

I'm sure this concept sounded good at the pitch meeting. Cedric and Vanessa certainly both have the chops to pull it off. However, the script and direction are weak and even Cedric dishing out multiple roles can't deliver enough humor to jump-start this road-kill.
Commentaries - Christoper Erskin (director), Todd R. Jones (writer), Earl Richey Jones (writer), Cedric The Entertainer, Bow Wow, Eric Rhone(producer) & Paul Hall (producer)

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

On The Set of: Johnson Family Vacation

Truthfully, I didn't watch this crap. There wasn't anything that MovieWeb could offer me that would make me sit through the special features on this disc after agonizing my way through the film, itself. View at your own risk.
In 1.85 widescreen, the film is fine, visually (albeit a stinker cinematically). I din't pay enough attention to this bomb to tell if the transfer was any good, but the Philips LCD that I'm test-drivin' shot this thing out in living-color and at least kept me happy playing with the remote in the slower sections that made up most of the film.
Listening to Cedric and Steve Harvey drop psuedo-sourthern-baptist rap-battle blessings in Dolby Digital 5.1 was just a bit much. Turn off your system and save your neighbors the grief and let this thing trickle out of the stereo speakers on your set. When I played this in only the Philips LCD TV stereo speakers (in simu-surround), I was way surprised. The relatively small speakers mounted to the side of the svelt screen really belt out surprisingly good quality audio without running your electric meter on over-drive to turn-out the full surround and subwoofer watts.
This is trash, plain and simple...lacking both the humor and the heart of National Lampoon's Vacation. If you need to see a family vacation road-trip picture, pick up the Griswold original for less than $15!

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