Two Family Films from Disney
College Road Trip (July 15/08)
College Road Trip ultimately comes off as precisely the sort of over-the-top and unapologetically silly endeavor one might've anticipated, with the egregiously broad work of stars Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone undoubtedly standing tall amongst the film's overtly irritating elements. The storyline follows Raven-Symone's Melanie Porter as she embarks on a road trip with her friends (Brenda Song's Nancy and Margo Harshman's Katie) to scout potential colleges, though the journey proves to be far more arduous than expected due to the presence of Melanie's overbearing father (Lawrence's James). Though the movie has been infused with a few tolerable sequences - ie James, desperate for Melanie to attend a nearby school, recruits his coworkers to pose as helpful (and flirtatious) students - College Road Trip is, by and large, a lowest-common-denominator cash grab geared almost exclusively towards Raven-Symone's most indiscriminating fans. The proliferation of eye-rollingly sentimental moments within the screenplay (which took four people to write!) certainly doesn't help matters, nor does Lawrence and Raven-Symone's relentless, downright unconscionable mugging for the camera. Donnie Osmond's surprisingly amusing role as an exuberant parent aside, College Road Trip boasts few elements designed to rope in viewers over a specific age - with the end result an effort that's mindlessly watchable, admittedly, yet entirely forgettable.
Anchored, of course, by Amy Adams' marvelously entertaining performance, Enchanted ultimately comes off as an admittedly overlong yet thoroughly engaging effort that brings a fresh spin to the old fish-out-of-water formula. The story opens within the animated landscape of Andalusia, where Princess Giselle (Adams) is preparing to wed the dashing Prince Edward (James Marsden). Problems ensue after Edward's vindictive step-mother (Susan Sarandon's Queen Narissa) banishes Giselle to the real-life world of the Big Apple, with the remainder of the movie following Giselle's efforts to ingratiate herself among jaded New Yorkers (including Patrick Dempsey's cynical Robert). Though the majority of Enchanted unfolds in precisely the sort of manner one might've anticipated, it's worth noting that screenwriter Bill Kelly has peppered the proceedings with a handful of genuinely unexpected plot developments (ie it actually takes a while to figure out which suitor Giselle will ultimately wind up with). Kevin Lima's disappointingly bland direction notwithstanding, Enchanted proves awfully effective in poking fun at the various conventions inherent within Disney's classic animated works - ensuring that while the movie does start to run out of steam as it approaches its overblown finale, there's certainly plenty here worth recommending and admiring (Timothy Spall's hilariously broad turn as Narissa's evil henchman, for one).