R.V. isn't all bad for kids. In fact, they'll walk away with what is known as the Barry Sonnenfeld Formula: Robin Williams + projectile excrement = money in the bank. Just kidding, though--it's pretty bad for young and old.
Bob Munro (Robin Williams) is your average hardworking dad trying to wrest back the power from his modernized kids (Josh Hutcherson and pop star JoJo), casualties of the Internet generation who "Instant Message when dinner's ready." So he decides to take the brood and his wife (Cheryl Hines) on an RV trip to Colorado in hopes of bringing them closer--and conducting business on the side to help salvage his job. RVs are large, cumbersome machines that require some experience and Bob is lacking, so the usual hijinks set in immediately--you know, steering problems, parking problems, projectile excrement that shoots up 50 feet in the air before landing squarely on Bob nothing out of the ordinary. Along the way, the Munros encounter the Gornickes, a family of simpletons (led by Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth) that they just can't seem to evade. But ultimately, the Munro clan ends up learning a thing or two from the Gornickes, and it helps draw them closer. Which is an absolute Hitchcock-like twist!
Everyone always says Williams needs medication to help quell his manic personality. Well be careful what you wish for, because R.V. might happen. In his dramatic work, Williams tones it down very well, but in comedies people pay to see him go stir crazy; it's more punchline delivery here, almost robotic by Robin Williams standards. Hines simply changes her name from Curb Your Enthusiasm, boring us with her never-quite-satisfied wife instead of showing off her comedic chops. The only freshness comes from the least-used actors. We could've hung out on Daniels and Chenoweth's RV and actually laughed the whole way through. Jeff Daniels is highly reliable--and underused--in all of his work, and Chenoweth, looking like a buxom Reese Witherspoon, at least provides some excitement with her part. The only true hilarity comes from Arrested Development's Will Arnett as Bob's arrogant boss, but it'll likely be lost on the kids anyway.
If director Barry Sonnenfeld was considered in decline with his last three films--Wild Wild West, Big Trouble and Men in Black II--then he's officially kaput now with R.V. Once a fixture in the 90s, thanks to exciting fare like Men in Black and Get Shorty, the acclaimed cinematographer-turned-director's career has reached a low point with this uninspired formula, even though it's not likely to struggle at the box office. It hits a snag right out of the gate thanks to his caricature of the 21st Century family, in which kids are overly precocious and their parents submissive old hags. Soon thereafter, the problems peak (but never really come back down) with the gratuitous feces scene. It runs almost 15 minutes long, and even the kiddies will become awkwardly silent. From that point on, Sonnenfeld turns out the worst mimicry of National Lampoon's Vacation since National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.