Saturday, September 16, 2006

Review by Sombrero Grande

RV isn’t really a comedy, even though it’s billed as such. I didn’t laugh once during the entire span of the film. I didn’t even crack a smile. RV is a 98-minute string of poop references. I could call them poop “jokes” but, as I just pointed out, there’s nothing funny in this movie and jokes are, well, usually funny.

Barry Sonnenfeld must think he’s pretty hot shit. As director of this turd, he saw fit to slap his visage on the side of the titicular RV as the ficticious “Irv,” owner of the RV lot Robin Williams’ character rents said vehicle from, and never misses a chance to pan the camera over to take a look at his own mug. Truth be told, Sonnenfeld is an erroneously respected Hollywood director who merely got lucky with a couple of good scripts and thus some profitable and popular films including Men in Black, Get Shorty and The Addams Family. Sonnenfeld is actually a gifted cinematographer as his unique and enjoyable work as such can be seen in films like Raising Arizona, Throw Momma From the Train and Misery. He has a wonderfully unique visual style...but he just can’t tell a story worth shit and has no business helming an entire production. I had thought that Wild Wild West would be enough evidence to prove that to the world, but no. Then came Men In Black II. Still no one but me seemed to notice the problem. Surely RV must be the wake-up call Hollywood needs.

But, Sombrero, you say, how can you blame Sonnenfeld for RV’s overt suckiness? Well, honestly he’s not the only one to blame. The half-assed script penned by Geoff Rodkey, who previously served as scribe for Daddy Day Care and this year’s remake of Disney’s The Shaggy Dog, deserves its share of dung flung at it. The film begins as a kind of rip-off of National Lampoon’s Vacation wherein an eager dad takes his reluctant family along for a vacation they’re dreading. After blowing its wad of jokes about how big and uncool their RV is, it’s obvious that Rodkey’s run out of ideas (even after a forcing a lengthy seatbelt-won’t-work gag that seems to last for several hours) and so the story switches to a simple avoid-an-annoying-family plotline. The problem here is, the “annoying family” is actually far more likeable than the one we’re supposed to be bonding with. When that premise is exhausted and Rodkey sees he still has a half a movie to fill he switches to the old sitcom standby of the father tricking his family into letting him sneak away for an important business meeting. After that, and as a last-ditch effort to try and squeeze a laugh from the audience, tepid wackiness ensues as Williams’ character gets stuck in one zany slapstick moment after another before finally arriving at the designated end of the trip: the inevitably forced moment where he grows closer to his family and they to him.

Okay, so the script is shit, but the direction isn’t much better. Oh sure the film has Sonnenfeld’s cool, distinct visual style (the family often appears to be driving through a cartoon version of the southwestern U.S.) but he never is able to manage eliciting a single chuckle. And considering the cast--not just Williams but also Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jeff Daniels and even Will Arnett and Tony Hale from the fall-down hilarious Arrested Development for crying out loud--the fact that Sonnenfeld can’t even coax a chuckle-worthy moment from any of these gifted performers...it just boggles my mind to no end.

At one point in RV, the characters take a cheap shot at the lameness of the film Ernest Goes to Jail. You know what, Mr. Sonnenfeld and Mr. Rodkey, compared to RV, Ernest Goes to Jail is definitely the preferable film to watch. I am not exaggerating when I say that the most entertaining moment in all of RV is the opening where Williams entertains his young daughter with an improvised sock puppet show. Seriously, sock puppets and Ernest Goes to Jail are preferable entertainments to the giant turd that is RV.

Oh, and if you’re tired of all the poop references I’ve made during the course of this review, now you know what it’s like to watch RV.


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