By pooling the ticket-buying potential of their large fan bases, Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné ended up turning Disney's College Road Trip into a minor hit at the box office. There's some nice father-daughter stuff to savor in this comedy about a college-bound teen's need to assert her independence, and her overprotective father's desire to keep her close to home. You never quite buy Lawrence as the police chief of their small Illinois town, if only because his occasional reliance on broad, tried-and-true schtick leaves him seeming better suited to the role of a goofy deputy than the man in charge. But Lawrence actually shows uncommon sensitivity more often in this film than he cajoles us into laughing, a tribute to the delicate hand of a director not usually known for that: Roger Kumble, who helmed such over-the-top cringe-fests as Just Friends and The Sweetest Thing. Not that there aren't over-the-top moments in College Road Trip, such as when the family's pet pig runs loose during a wedding reception, toppling tents and wedding cakes. This scene is dispiriting because the bride is heavyset, brutish, and spoiled -- she's supposed to remind us of that pig. As with Lawrence's moments of hamming it up, though, Kumble's mean streak only shows up in small doses. A more representative example of this film's tone is when Raven sings a lively karaoke version of Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus" on a bus full of Japanese tourists. (As long as you don't mind the stereotype that Japanese people love karaoke.) Raven's quite appealing in this role, and has good comic chemistry with Lawrence. A supporting appearance from Donny Osmond as a show tunes-loving dad helps keep this road trip light and giddy. It's not Shakespeare, but College Road Trip accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish.
by Derek Armstrong review