Bob Munro (Robin Williams) is a Los Angeles executive for a soft drink/snack company whose job is threatened by new talent. He will do anything to please his boss and safeguard his job. So when his boss wants him to give a presentation at a meeting in Colorado in a few days, right during the Hawaii vacation he has promised his family, he decides to rent a big, ugly, RV, and scam his wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines), daughter Cassie (Jo Jo Levesque) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson) into a vacation that will help them grow closer.
In ways that will remind you of the 1970 Out of Towners (Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis), everything goes wrong and catastrophe is around every corner because Bob has to prepare a presentation for his boss in hiding, he cannot drive the RV, the potty has to be drained from the previous RV renters, and the Munro’s, who are not a very likeable family, is rescued and heartily befriended by professional, singing RV’ers, the Gornicke’s (Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth) and their three kids – and they like the Munro’s a lot!
From the previews I was not prepared to like this film that looked like a slap stick comedy. But in reality it shows Robin Williams in his typical manic comedian mode but then as a fumbling father, and a wise man who finally realizes what’s important is not what you do, but the meaningful reasons that motivate a man in the middle season of his life.
I compared the movements of the film as an encounter with the Last Things: death, judgment, purgatory, hell, and heaven. If you think of these when you see the movie, you’ll see how Bob practically goes through Dante’s poem… and so do we. Have you ever been in the car with a driver who won’t listen? Tried to get someplace on time and agonized when you hit every red light (or obstacle possible)?
This a fun film for kids and parents because it deals with all kinds of issues in maddeningly and ultimately fun ways. The Gornicke’s home schooling is shown in a respectful way (I am not particularly in favor of home schooling but here it sounds like a serious adventure for a family that gets what’s important in life), and the film confronts corporations that place soda and sugar-snack machines in schools as if that’s a good thing for kids (which is a huge problem since the profits provide the same schools with money for their sports programs – but to what end?). RV also examines a family in which each member is plugged into their own listening device in ways that disconnects them from each other. Finally, it is about slowing down and being in the presence of nature’s beauty that rounds out the Munro’s adventure.
Bob has to give two presentations to the board of the new company in Colorado that Bob’s larger corporation wants to buy out. Williams acting range is evident, and he doesn’t mess up the scenes with overboard humor but instead, presents a thoughtful and intelligent character that you like by the end of the movie.
The Munro’s name the RV “Turd” (to be expected in films that wants to appeal to young adolescents), but the RV is not the problem. The problem is the people who haven’t figured out the meaning of their lives and the RV provides the way to do that… on a road trip! Sure, part of it is predictable, but the story is put together in a way that engaged me and made the agony real and funny.
In RV there’s much to laugh and groan at and plenty to talk about. Enjoy.