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Don't take this trip

College Road Trip” covers worn out ground

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“College Road Trip” is the sort of movie that gets described as “fun for the whole family,” but it really isn’t.  It will be no fun at all for members of the family over 10.  Or sophisticated ones over 8. 

The characters scream a lot when they’re unhappy and dance a lot when they’re pleased.  A pig does cartwheels.  People say, “Oh, it’s on” and, “You go, girl” as though such things are funny.  There’s more clever comedy being done by birthday party clowns and teenagers in Foghorn Leghorn costumes at amusement parks. 

That said, “College Road Trip” is the best Martin Lawrence/Raven-Symone/Donny Osmond vehicle ever made.  Raven plays a high school whiz kid who lives in “Fox Springs,” apparently a Chicago suburb.  Her overprotective father, the police chief (Lawrence), hopes she’ll go to college at nearby Northwestern.  She also has her eye on faraway Georgetown and wants to check it out on a trip with her racially balanced friends, but instead, Dad insists on driving her there in a police SUV.  Tedious disasters and schmaltzy hugs ensue. 

Some of the cast may be capable of good acting, but it is forbidden in “College Road Trip.”  All are made to ham it up in that overwrought, sing-songy style you see on Saturday morning TV.  Raven, especially, mugs something awful, as when she literally stumbles upon a cute boy. 

Cute boy’s inquiry: “Are you OK?” 

Raven’s reply after glimpsing him: “I am now!” 

Honest, it actually happens.  That’s so Raven! 

A droning child named Eshaya Draper plays Raven’s little brother, a one-note brainiac who wears goggles and asks for “13 cc’s of orange juice.”  He has a pet pig that plays chess and wears hats, like the animals in horrible Super Bowl commercials. 

This movie also has not one but two strangers who coincidentally, I mean impossibly, run into the father-daughter duo all over their travel route.  The obnoxiously cheery dad Osmond is basically playing his dorky dancer in the Weird Al Yankovic “White and Nerdy” video, only not as trenchantly written.  And in a logical follow-up to his “Sopranos” role as the closeted, brutally executed hit man Vito Spatafore, Joe Gannascoli is a hapless innocent who’s victimized by Raven and company at various sites in different states, like Eric Idle in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” but without the laughs. 

This movie’s jokes and trust-your-offspring sentiments have been heard 1,000 times already by all but a few very young viewers.  They might find “College Road Trip” tolerable, or even enjoyable.  Still unsure?  Ask yourself: Are you mature enough to understand what a college road trip is?  Then you’re mature enough to hate this. 

A final note: If your kids take a liking to this Osmond fellow, treat them to “Goin’ Coconuts” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”  And if they want to see more of Martin Lawrence — well, read those parental warnings verrrry carefully.

College Road trip

1/2  star

Stars: Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone and Donny Osmond

Director: Roger Kumble

Rated: G

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