College Road Trip

“College Road Trip” stars Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Donny Osmond, and a pig. Want to guess which one gives the most convincing performance? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the one who’s chubby, fuzzy, and has a cute pink tail. That’s right, Raven-Symone.

I hated every minute of this train wreck. While its ostensible purpose is to warm your heart and tickle your funny bone, the production is actually much more cynical and calculated than that. The real point of this movie is to separate the easily amused and the desperate-for-entertainment from their money, under the guise of “wholesome family programming.” Sure, it’s clean and family-friendly. But you know what else is? Lots of GOOD movies!

These people don’t care. These people — these untalented studio hacks who crank out putrid family comedies like sausages in a factory — don’t care that there are plenty of wholesome entertainment options that also happen to be clever, funny, and artistic. And why should they? They know people will pay to see this crap, too. Why bother making something good when the audience doesn’t care either way?

Sigh. Anyway. The plot. Bright, headstrong Melanie Porter (Raven-Symone) wants to go to Georgetown University in the fall, but her overprotective buffoon of a father (Lawrence) wants her to stay close to home and go to a place he calls “Norfwestern,” which I guess is also sometimes known as Northwestern. Still, he takes a road trip with her to Georgetown, and en route they have all manner of shenanigans and hijinks and what-have-you. Also, for some reason Melanie’s science-nerd little brother Trey (Eshaya Draper) tags along and brings his pet pig with him.

Dad is a cop and has commandeered a police vehicle for the trip; obviously, the car must be destroyed at the movie’s earliest convenience. This leaves the Porters walking to a motel that doesn’t take pets, which requires them to wrap the pig in swaddling clothes and pretend it’s a baby. Then the pig has no choice but to escape, run down the hall, and ruin a wedding. These are all mandatory actions when you are trying to make your movie as stupid as possible.

They hitch a ride for a while with a super-perky dad and daughter who are also on a college road trip. The dad is played by Donny Osmond, and the movie wants us to think he’s annoying, irritating, and insufferable. And make no mistake, he is. I wanted to punch him every minute he was on the screen. But what’s curious is that his behavior is no more outlandish, over-the-top, or tiresome than Martin Lawrence’s — and HIS character is just supposed to be funny.

The Porters eventually make it to Pittsburgh, where Grandma Porter lives, and where a couple of Melanie’s friends are also staying for the night during their own college road trip. The friends are not necessary to the story, except that they’re spending the night at a sorority house where one of their sisters lives, and Melanie sleeps there instead of at Grandma’s, and that gives Dad a reason to sneak into the sorority house to spy and be overprotective and get caught and go to jail and hop around frantically and just generally make an ass of himself, and sweet gravy do I ever hate Martin Lawrence. I find him absolutely intolerable. I know this is a personal thing with me and that not everyone shares my opinion, but even taking him out of the equation, this is still an awful movie.

So the next morning Melanie and Dad have to fly the rest of the way to Washington D.C. If you know that D.C. is only 190 miles from Pittsburgh, you might think, “Why don’t they just rent a car and drive? They’ll be there in three hours, tops. Surely that would be cheaper and easier than flying.” But that shows how little you know. The reason they have to fly is so that they can miss their flight, panic, and hitch a ride with a team of skydivers who are heading that way. Naturally, they will be unaware that the people they’re riding with are skydivers, and that the plane will not actually land in Washington; it’s just going to fly overhead and let everyone jump out. This means, of course, that the Porters have NO CHOICE but to parachute out of the plane, despite having no training and having signed no insurance waivers. And you have probably already guessed that they will land on a golf course just as the man whose wedding they previously ruined is making an easy putt on which a $20,000 bet lies, and they will cause him to miss the putt AND fall into a pond, whereupon they will flee for their lives and run to the Georgetown admissions office just in time for Melanie’s interview — because, wouldn’t you know it, the golf course over which the plane dropped them is ON CAMPUS. Thank goodness for that lucky break!

I hated this movie.

It was written by the halfwits who wrote “Bubble Boy,” along with a pair of newcomers. I’m going to mention their names only so they’ll see how much I disliked their movie when they Google themselves. Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Cinco Paul, and Ken Daurio, if “College Road Trip” represents the zenith of your writing skills, then I urge you to seek other occupations.

I hated this movie. Not only is it a platform for the grotesquely unfunny Martin Lawrence to do his bug-eyed shtick yet again, it’s also an infuriatingly lazy picture. You can tell they weren’t even TRYING to be original or smart or creative. They took an astonishingly bad script — one with so many contrivances, contradictions, and unmotivated actions that you’d assume it was a first draft and that its author was 7 years old — and rushed to produce it as cheaply and easily as possible.

Defenders of the film will say, “Come on, lighten up! It’s a family movie! It’s for kids!” And you know what? That’s a flimsy excuse. Like I said, plenty of artists make things for kids and actually work hard at it. If you want to reward half-hearted, soulless, mass-produced dreck, be my guest. But don’t expect me to give it a pass just because it’s G-rated.

F (1 hr., 23 min.; G.)