"Renewing Family Bonds"
JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION is not quite as enjoyable a family film as one might expect, considering the talent involved. A tighter script and more solid direction would have helped immensely.
Cedric the Entertainer stars as Nate Johnson, a successful California insurance salesman who’s taking his family to his mother’s annual family reunion in Missouri. The annual reunion involves a literal competition for the Johnson Family of the Year trophy between he and his older brother Mack (played by Steve Harvey), a competition Mack always wins. Nate is determined to win this year, but what Mack and his mother don’t know is that Nate and his wife, Dorothy, played by Vanessa Williams, are living in separate houses just down the street from one another. Nate lives with their teenage son D.J., and Dorothy lives with their two daughters, teenager Nikki and little Destiny. Apparently, Nate has been less than supportive of Dorothy’s attempt to get a tax accountant’s license. She also feels he doesn’t pay enough attention to her or the kids.
Nate desperately wants to get back with his wife and hopes that the long trip will help the family restore the bonds that have been broken. Dorothy is still upset with him, however, so nearly everything Nate tries has the opposite effect of his intent. Then, when the vacation trip encounters one mishap after another, it remains to be seen whether the Johnson family can bond together sufficiently to beat Nate’s brother and his family – assuming, of course, that they can reach Missouri at all.
The adult characters in this family comedy are well-developed, but the children less so. Also, instead of developing solid plots and sub-plots that run all the way through the story, the movie is more of a hodgepodge of incidents. Both of these things undercut the performance of Cedric the Entertainer, who’s one of America’s funniest comic actors. Finally, the direction at times seems a bit sloppy, as if the director rushed his actors and his crew to just finish some scenes, scenes which probably were not well thought out originally.
JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION contains seven mostly light obscenities and some light sexual innuendo between Nate and his wife and regarding Nate’s goofy cousin. Furthermore, the Johnson family finds out that a hitchhiker they pick up is into witchcraft and Satanism; the hitchhiker also leaves behind a marijuana pipe which gets them into trouble with the police. Thus, the PG-13 rating for this movie seems deserved, despite its positive moral worldview and Christian content.
(B, C, O, L, V, S, N, A, DD, M) Moral, comical worldview about a family bonding together again in spite of mishaps and troubles, with Christian references to prayer and “What would Jesus do?” and family members get upset when they discover hitchhiker is into witchcraft and Satanism and left behind her marijuana pipe, which gets them into trouble with the police; seven mostly light obscenities, two light profanities, man goes to restroom, and boy urinates in a cup which boy’s father spills on policeman while littering; light slapstick violence includes pet alligator bites man in bed; light sexual innuendo between man and his wife, father tells son that you have to wear a condom just to listen to most rap music, and man comments and leers at his cousin’s wife’s nice body; upper male nudity, implied male nudity, and father makes his teenage daughter change her tight clothes into something more appropriate; alcohol use; hitchhiker drops marijuana pipe, which is later found by policeman; and, stubbornness, divorce, and stereotypes of American Indians rejected.
JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION stars Cedric the Entertainer as Nate Johnson, a successful California insurance salesman who’s taking his family to his mother’s annual family reunion in Missouri. The annual reunion involves a literal competition for the Johnson Family of the Year trophy between he and his older brother Mack, a competition Mack always wins. What his mother and Mack don’t know is that Nate hopes the trip will lead to a reconciliation between he and his wife Dorothy, who feels Nate doesn’t pay enough attention to her or the children. When the trip encounters one mishap after another, it becomes questionable whether Nate can succeed in his own family’s reunion, if they can reach Missouri at all.
Despite funny moments, decent performances and some Christian content, JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION is not quite as enjoyable a family film as one might expect, considering the talent involved. A tighter script and solid direction would have helped immensely. The movie also has a PG-13 rating, due to mostly light foul language, some light sexual innuendo, and a brief bit about a marijuana pipe. Eventually, however, the family bonds together again in spite of their mishaps and troubles.