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College Road Trip(2008)
Melanie is eagerly looking forward to taking her first big step towards independence when she plans a "girls only" road trip to check out prospective universities. However, when her imposing police-chief dad insists on escorting her instead, she soon finds her dream trip turning into a nightmare full of misfortune and turmoil. Dad wants to assure total security and safety for his precious daughter, while Melanie has a 17-year-old's need to become a grown woman and have her own sense of independence. Now, even as dad and daughter bicker, banter and careen from one disaster to the next on their journey, they are about to discover that, sometimes, going that extra mile to be together can forge a family bond so strong it can withstand anything—even wild curves ahead.
For more about College Road Trip and the College Road Trip Blu-ray release, see College Road Trip Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 15, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Donny Osmond, Will Sasso, Eshaya Draper, Molly Ephraim, Kym Whitley
Director: Roger Kumble
» See full cast & crew
College Road Trip Blu-ray Review
Does 'College Road Trip' make the grade?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 15, 2008
They're going to kill each other.
Call it an odd fascination, call it a loose screw, or call it some sort of need for self-inflicted punishment, but I cannot help but want to watch family comedies like RV, Are We Done Yet?, and College Road Trip. Although chances are high that such movies will scrape the bottom of the barrel in quality, taste, acting, direction, and laughs, every time a new family comedy like this one comes out, my radar picks it up and stores it in my memory banks, eagerly awaiting the day when I might stumble across it on TBS or some other station that plays these kinds of movies on a regular basis. In fact, I recently fulfilled a desire to see a movie in this category, Johnson Family Vacation, when it ran on late-night cable television a few weeks ago. The film was as lame as I had expected, but when I saw it was on, I couldn't help but flip to it and suffer through the entire experience. Now we have College Road Trip, a film about that special time in life when you traverse the country in search of that perfect college that probably won't accept you at the end of the day, anyway.
When the film's main menu prominently features the sound of a flushing toilet, I get that sinking feeling that the movie just might be worse than I had anticipated. Thankfully, the opposite proved true, and while College Road Trip won't win any Oscars this year, it's a bit more entertaining than your average family comedy (it probably doesn't hurt that I enjoy high school and college-themed movies to begin with). College Road Trip stars Disney Channel star Raven-Symoné as Melanie Porter, a brainiac high school grad-to-be who wants nothing more than to gain admittance to her dream school, Georgetown. Unfortunately, her control freak father, chief of police James Porter (Martin Lawrence, Wild Hogs) has been waiting his daughter's entire life for her to attend Northwestern, a school 40 miles from their Illinois home. When Melanie receives an invitation to attend a special interview for a select few students who have been wait listed at Georgetown, James decides to set out on a fun, father-daughter road trip where he hopes to convince Melanie that Northwestern is where she belongs. With a couple of stowaways and all the mishaps, wrong turns, and generally lame jokes you'd expect to accompany such a journey, the film predictably moves along and revels in every family comedy cliché in the book.
College Road Trip wouldn't be a family comedy without a plethora of obstacles thrown into the Porter family's path. A movie such as this one couldn't possibly be interesting if it was played fairly straight and derived its laughs from the troubles regular people would find on such a trip, could it? No, we need to have every conceivable problem and snag crop up along the way. The entire movie is completely unoriginal and nearly one hundred percent predictable. For example, the moment the Porters meet an obnoxious father and daughter on a similar college road trip, is there any doubt how their fates will intertwine by the end? Nonetheless, where the film sort of works well is through the chemistry shared between Lawrence and Raven. Although their actions, dialogue, personalities, and obligatory sappy father-daughter coming-to-terms moments are wholly generic and expected, they are played with just enough heart to make us care and see this family mend and come together at the end. Such scenes come with the heard-it-once-heard-it-one-hundred-times conventional family comedy "moment of honesty" music, but because Lawrence and Raven play the moments as well as we can expect them to in a movie such as this, the moments become quasi-touching despite their completely unoriginal feel.
What really bogs College Road Trip down is a completely worthless subplot featuring Porter's young son, Trey (Eshaya Draper) and his chess-playing pig named Albert. Trey is billed as a child genius who has developed a "super pig" and, when he learns that his father and sister are preparing to visit Washington, D.C. (the home of Georgetown), he requests his father take word of his super pig to the Department of Defense. Go figure that Trey and Albert sneak into the family SUV and tag along on the trip, ensuring that we have about twenty minutes worth of filler material as Albert muddies up the trip not only for the Porters, but for several unfortunate souls they encounter along the way as well. Honestly, these characters add nothing to the story except fifteen to twenty minutes of runtime, and while the child is undeniably cute, this subplot fails to add any heft or prestige to the picture. The only reason I can fathom that this character was included in the film was to set up a potential sequel in a few years as this "whiz kid" begins searching for a college, perhaps this time he and his father will partake in a college road trip with an international flair (Rhodes Scholar, maybe?).
College Road Trip Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney takes most other discs to school with an absolutely exceptional transfer for College Road Trip. As expected, the studio that has arguably been Blu-ray's best friend has delivered another first-rate disc in the form of this 1080p, 2.40:1 transfer. The image is crystal-clear and offers a very pleasing theatrical quality look and feel, complete with a layer of subtle grain and a deep, crisp, sharp eye-popping transfer that makes straight A's. Detail is remarkably high and provides a very nice lifelike look to the movie. The interior of the Porter household looks spic and span, and every item the camera focuses on presents to us a realistic, natural appearance, including the red couch in the living room, the wallpapered walls, and a lamp on a nightstand in a bedroom. The house looks clean but lived in, a cozy abode that shines brightly on this disc. Another fine example of the wonderful detail seen on the disc is in the green hat worn by Melanie. Every weave and thread in it offers a lifelike texture. Various exterior shots sparkle, too. Every shrub outside the house is highly detailed and intricate, and even the ones in the far background never fail to provide eye-catching detail and clarity. Black levels are deep and true with no apparent crushing issues. Colors are remarkably vibrant, but true to life. The movie never fails to provide a wide array of color, from that aforementioned green hat to the various Northwestern-purple clothes and accessories to the beautiful greens of the lawn and trees of the various college campuses seen in the movie. I'm always impressed when studios deliver top-tier transfers, even on their least-popular films, and I am happy to report that College Road Trip is no exception.
College Road Trip Blu-ray, Audio Quality
College Road Trip enrolls on Blu-ray with a fairly standard-fare comedy style PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack that is mostly front heavy. The occasional swelling of the score, applause from a crowd, or other nicety finds its way into the rear, but such instances are the exception rather than the rule. The party scenes in chapter two are one of the high points in the track, even though they only come to us in brief spurts. The deep, pulsating dance music sounds fantastic as it puts the subwoofer to good use, and the surrounds kick in, too. Dialogue is the primary vehicle that moves the movie along, and it sounds perfect; every syllable of Mr. Porter's sarcastic remarks to his daughter, her high-pitched screeching while on the phone with her friends, and every squeal from Albert the Pig is crystal clear and pitched perfectly. Bass rarely kicks in, but chapter six features one of the better uses of it when a vehicle rolls over. The performance of "Double Dutch Bus" is, from a technical perspective, the best-sounding few minutes in the movie, but as to whether it is actually an enjoyable listen is certainly up for debate. College Road Trip never wows the viewer, but then again, the movie never presents any situations that would allow the soundtrack to kick into overdrive. It does all that is asked of it, but demonstration material it most certainly is not.
College Road Trip Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
College Road Trip enrolls viewers into supplemental features 101, a class headlined by two commentary tracks, the first featuring actress Raven-Symoné and director Roger Kumble. While providing the essential background factoids and thoughts on the script, character motivations, and other pertinent details about the film, these participants remain laid back and affable, more than willing to engage in a conversation with us about the College Road Trip experience. Track number two features the film's writers, Emi Mochizuki and Carrie Evans. Two commentaries for a family comedy such as College Road Trip feels a bit like overkill, and while the writers maintain a listenable pace, other than some basic background on the story, much of the information feels superfluous. Raven's Video Diary (1080i, 9:56) is a short piece shot by the film's star herself (well, some of it) as she introduces us to the crew, actors, and the experience of working on the set of College Road Trip. A music video entitled Double Dutch Bus (480p, 3:16), performed by Raven-Symoné, is next, and is followed by On the Set: 'Double Dutch Bus' (1080p, 3:27), a short behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the music video. Ten deleted scenes (1080p, 12:39) with optional commentary by director Roger Kumble come next. Concluding the special features are alternate opening and ending scenes (1080p, 3:35), again with optional commentary with the director, a gag reel (1080p, 2:47), and trailers for The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Tinker Bell.
College Road Trip Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
College Road Trip left me with a smile on my face more often than not, which I suppose is all I could ask of a movie such as this. Unfortunately, the movie is far from the perfect family comedy (if there is such a thing) but it does rank as one of the most family-friendly comedies in recent memory, and is appropriately rated "G." As short as the movie is, it could have been shorter, but it works well enough anyway and should keep the youngest of audiences, and maybe even those overbearing fathers and their college-bound daughters, entertained for the duration. Disney brings College Road Trip to Blu-ray with a stunning picture quality, a serviceable lossless soundtrack, and fairly standard helping of extra materials. Recommended as a rental for family movie night.
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College Road Trip Blu-ray, News and Updates
• College Road Trip Gets Announced for Blu-ray - May 2, 2008
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Martin Lawrence and Raven comedy 'College Road Trip' to Blu-ray on July 15th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 2.35:1 1080p and accompanied by a 5.1 24-bit ...
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