“This is cruelty,” says Melanie Porter (Raven-Symoné), in reference to the road trip she and her father, James (Martin Lawrence), are making from Illinois to Georgetown University. Amen, sister! Here is an ostensibly wholesome Disney film only a two-year-old could possibly feel they’ve learned something from: about family values, race, gender, pigs (yes, pigs—namely their canny chess-playing, coffee bean-savoring, bed-bouncing, human-stalking capabilities). College Road Trip hurts more than just the eyes and ears, it wreaks havoc on one’s humane sensibilities, leaving no race steamrolled in Melanie and James’s father-daughter bonding tour, though to be fair, whites bear the brunt of its shrill sense of humor: MADtv and Best Week Ever‘s respective unfunniest members, Will Sasso and Jessica St. Clair, happily reinforce honky stereotypes with as much grinning gusto as Lawrence keeps the flame of minstrelsy burning. I haven’t decided if Lawrence should be pitied or decried for his bug-eyed mugging, but to be fair, Ms. Raven-Symoné is equally game: Every day looking more and more like the one and only Divine, the former Cosby kid performs for the entirely of the film with her teeth, eyes and high-pitched squeal. Her character is smart, but apparently not smart enough to call out a Georgetown tour guide’s casual homophobia or prevent the filmmakers from reducing a bus full of Japanese tourists to a giggling backup choir for a shamelessly impromptu lip-sync of one of the singer-actress’s songs. That and punching Donny Osmond in the fucking face.
You know how it is: While holy grails of cinema by Altman, Godard and Chris Marker have sometimes appeared as shit smears on DVD, the cinematic work of Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné gets the Midas touch.
From the two unnecessary commentary tracks made available on this DVD, we may glean that the film's cast and crew are either liars or completely clueless. Raven-Symoné joins Roger Kumble on the first, heaping praise on everyone from Lawrence to the production designer responsible for that masterpiece of a wedding sequence that apparently took over one week to shoot. On the second, two of the film's writers giggle their way through some of the most execrable parts of the movie, even that choice moment where Donny Osmond gets called "tinkerbell"-one of many scenes that apparently didn't send a red flag up with the MPAA when they gave the film a G rating. More atrocities you may or may not want to endure: a gag reel, alternate opening and endings, a video diary recorded by Raven-Symoné, the singer-actress's "Double Dutch Bus" music video, an accompanying making-of featurette in which she praises David Crosby's choreography, and a whole lot of kiddie-centric previews.
Essentially a collage of mistrelsy reaction shots, College Road Trip is both a cinematic atrocity and colossal blow for minority representation.