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R.V.

SYNOPSIS:
Hardworking and resourceful Bob Munro (Robin Williams) plans a trip with wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines), despondent teenage daughter Cassie (Joanna "JoJo" Levesque), and meagre "tweenage" son Carl (Josh Hutcherson) to the idyllic beaches and bountiful malls of Hawaii. However, when Bob's boss Todd Mallory (Will Arnett) demands that he attend a meeting in Colorado, the Munros' plans must make a U-turn. Bob rents a 'Recreational Vehicle' (RV) and announces to the family their new Rocky Mountain holiday destination, hiding his executive motivation in a ploy for family togetherness. A road-trip ensues, in which the irritable Munros, torn from their Malibu comforts, must not only manage to elude the cheerily insane Gornicke family (led by Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth), but rediscover their own special bond.

Review by Joel Meares:
Barry Sonnenfeld's R.V. is not nearly as bad as the synopsis implies. Unlike other unsuccessful broad American comedies of late, it does not mishandle a promising premise, but rather at moments invigorates the stale and predictable yarn that forms its plot. Buoyed by a mostly sharp screenplay by Geoff Rodkey, Sonnenfeld directs with disarming and unobvious flair. Gone is the glossy sheen of family films like the remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, replaced by a simplicity of style, bubbly pace and a general unforced likeability.

Rodkey's script, though perhaps narratively ill-conceived, holds our interest with its litany of off-the-cuff zingers. When Travis Gornicke (Jeff Daniels) announces, "I am full of... chagrin" one can't help but chuckle. The eccentricity of the Gornickes is a particularly winning ingredient in the film. Their R.V., a hallowed Road Hall of Kitsch, is a visual marvel only matched by the endearing garishness of Daniels' and Chenoweth's performances. Both are hilariously blinkered creations, tickling our funny bone and our sympathy in their blindness to the Munros' cynicism. The acidic whimsicality of Arnett's executive is too of great benefit to the film.

However, the colour of these supporting characters renders the Munros backseat drivers in their own movie. None of the four leads are particularly interesting, only Hutcherson as the weightlifting Carl managing at all to make an impression. Hines steps over the line of annoyance that she brilliantly toes in TV's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Even Williams, in his return to comedy, seems deflated, vacillating somewhere between manic Genie mode and the quietly maniacal murderers of his recent career. Williams has lost his youthful elasticity, and when the cloying sentimentality comes, and come it does, he telegraphs his emotions in such saccharine facial contortions that Patch Adams himself would blush. His performance is disheartening.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

R.V. (PG)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, JoJo, Josh Hutcherson, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, Hunter Parrish, Chloe Sonnenfeld, Alex Ferris

PRODUCER: Douglas Wick, Bobby Cohen, Lucy Fisher

DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld

SCRIPT: Geoff Rodkey

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy

EDITOR: Kevin Tent

MUSIC: James Newton Howard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael S. Bolton

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 1, 2006







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