Review: “Johnson Family Vacation”

In many TV shows, the characters people remember are the witty comedic support – the people who only have a small amount of time on screen but make the best use of it. The trouble is when episodes shift in order to focus on that character, the humour and edge becomes lost or banal.

Cedric the Entertainer is one such talent – in commercials and “Barbershop” he was hilarious, but his expanded role in the sequel and his leading role here are surprisingly dull. Making matters worse, the film overall is a piece of tripe – every bit as bland and flat as the latter “National Lampoon’s Vacation” sequels.

Cedric at least plays himself in some ways which is a strength, but others around him like the Radio Shack-reinvented Vanessa Williams looking bored, Shannon Elizabeth wondering where in the hell her career has gone, and Steve Harvey almost crying in pain over his awfully penned ‘one-upmanship’ brother role are criminally wasted.

The kids from Bow Wow to Beyonce’s sister are the kind that are simply irritating to the point where you want to leave them at a truck stop urinal with a jar of vaseline and five bucks. Attempts at gags feel limp most of the time, dated at other points and every now and then just plain desperate (like a silly but smile-inducing alligator sequence).

Christopher Erskin’s direction is run of the mill, more than anything else the film is one hell of a promo for the Lincoln Navigator which comes out of it with a rather rosy reputation. Still, the whole setup means the trip to the reunion is filled with one loosely inserted comedy sequence after another with none of them really being of much interest.

Once the reunion gets underway though it’s dance numbers and just plain odd rivalry competitions galore. So little material is stretched far too thin to stand up to any scrutiny. This is one road trip that should’ve ended in a ditch.