In 2006, Columbia Pictures released the best family comedy that you probably haven’t seen. Director Barry Sonnenfeld brings innocent family fun to the screen in RV, starring Robin Williams. Although this hilarious family film slipped past the approval of many critics, it's still worth your time and guarantees a good laugh. It may not leave a mark on cinematic history, but it does, however, give hope to parents that there are still clean, PG films amidst the garbage of today’s media.
Joining Robin Williams on this family road trip is a hilarious cast including Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, Hunter Parrish, Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, and Josh Hutcherson. As the Munros embark on an RV trip across the country, they encounter a number of detours that lead to undeniably comical situations. In many ways, the RV itself becomes somewhat of a character in the film.
As the family is forced to take a trip in the gigantic, tacky vehicle instead of a vacation to Hawaii, they learn the value of spending time with one another. This only happens after hitting a few mailboxes, getting lost, and trying to escape some overly friendly hillbillies. Perhaps one of the best parts of the film is when the toilet sewage overflows, and sprays into the air like Old Faithful. As grotesque as that sounds, many viewers will be thinking, “I’ve been there!”
The casting of the film is really the element that makes it work. The chemistry of the Munro family, which includes actors Williams, Hines, Levesque, and Hutcherson, really resembles that of a typical, middle class family. Fathers everywhere will relate to Williams’ character, Bob, as he struggles to balance the pressures of work with pleasing his family. Young girls will be pleased to see the familiar face of the young hip-hop singer, JoJo, in the role of the teenage daughter. Equally enjoyable is the presence of the Gornicke family, with parents played by Jeff Daniels and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. Their family encapsulates the simple-minded neighbors that you always try to avoid but eventually win a way into your hearts through their persistence. Chenoweth even gets an opportunity to bring her stage talents to the screen with her character’s love of yodeling.
It could be argued that the minimal commercial success of this film is due to the fact that it does not “do” anything uniquely groundbreaking in the field of cinema. However, there are enough films out there that do try and change history. Every now and then it is perfectly acceptable to want to watch a simple film for the purpose of pure enjoyment. Yes, the family road trip movie has been done before, but Williams’ comedic style alone brings a new element to this film.
The comedy is genuine and true, and avoids the cheap, dirty elements that fill so many more financially successful films. With a runtime of 99 minutes, the story is short and sweet. After watching it once, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of admitting you actually laughed out loud, multiple times. It’s okay to disagree with the critics sometimes.