AAA can't help the roadside emergency that is the JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION. Even the on-board navigation system has a meltdown on Nate Johnson and his family's cross-country trek to their ...
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AAA can't help the roadside emergency that is the JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION. Even the on-board navigation system has a meltdown on Nate Johnson and his family's cross-country trek to their annual family reunion/grudge match. Reluctantly along for the ride are Nate's wife, who's only in it for the kids; their rapper-wannabe son; their teenage daughter who's fashioned herself as the next Lolita; and their youngest, whose imaginary dog Nate just can't seem to keep track of. Can the Johnsons survive each other and all the obstacles the road throws at them to make it to Caruthersville, Missouri? Can they find Missouri? Written by
Cedric and Steve both went on to be game show hosts, Cedric hosted Who wants to be a millionaire and Steve is the current host of Family Feud. See more »
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[Nate walks through the hotel lobby naked, and runs into a white family]
Hey, Don Judy. How you guys doing? It's a fine evening. Hey, why don't you get rid of the clothes and the kids? We're all playing butt-naked uno up in 304.
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In "Johnson Family Vacation," which is little more than an all-black version of the National Lampoon Vacation movies from twenty or so years ago, Nate Johnson loads his wife and three kids into the car and drives from their home in Los Angeles to a family reunion in Missouri. Along the way, of course, the family meets with a series of comic misadventures that threaten to prevent them from reaching their destination.
Despite the derivative storyline, the early scenes in the film exhibit a kind of playful spirit that bodes well for the rest of the movie. This is due in no small measure to Cedric the Entertainer, who, unlike so many of the comics who appear in these types of movies, doesn't feel the need to stand apart from the material in order to draw attention to himself. Indeed, it is the laid-back, unfussy way in which he delivers his lines that makes them so funny. He is also blessed with an attractive supporting cast that includes Vanessa Williams as his long-suffering wife and Bow Wow as his mouthy but generally good-hearted teenage son. The movie even includes some clever little satirical jabs at the accoutrements and symbols of modern-day black culture as Nate, the traditionalist, who listens to '70's soul on his worn-out 8-tracks, goes toe-to-toe with his adolescent gansta' rap adolescents.
But as the Johnsons tootle their way across country in their souped-up SUV, we begin to notice that the film itself has stalled out. About halfway through, it dawns on us that the movie isn't really going anywhere, that it is merely playing out variations on incidents we've seen earlier in the film, and that the set pieces and situations aren't nearly as interesting or outrageous as they should be. This is truly a pity because, given the attractive cast, we really want to like "Johnson Family Vacation" more than we ultimately do.
Still, all things considered, this makes for a reasonable diverting, mindless time at the movies, and Cedric the Entertainer's moniker has rarely seemed so apt.
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