Johnson Family Vacation

Directed by Christopher Erskin

> > Aug 2004

Johnson Family Vacation - Directed by Christopher Erskin
By Allan TongIt was inevitable that someone would make an African-American version of the box office-friendly Vacation movies. Here the Griswalds are the black, middle-class Johnsons headed by Cedric the Entertainer and the lovely Vanessa Williams. They lead their three cookie-cutter cute kids across America one state at a time. Predictably, they wreak havoc — they are thrown in jail, the father is embarrassed in a hot tub, guys hit on the daughter, etc. We've seen these characters before: the overly protective father, the distant wife, the foxy teenage daughter, the adorable little girl and the rebellious son. These aren't characters so much as caricatures pumped out of a Hollywood studio and mass marketed to the ticket buying masses. While I totally encourage films that feature actors of colour, Johnson Family Vacation just plain stinks. Nothing in this film is funny. The alleged jokes fall flat, suffering from inept delivery and poor comedic timing. We don't care for any of the characters and frankly they don't care for each other. This is a family? The otherwise talented cast is wasted on this picture. It would've been nice if someone had written a script and hired a director who knew how to make people laugh. The elaborate set of special features is wasted on this movie. There are two commentaries, one featuring Cedric, the director and producer, with the other by the writers. There are deleted scenes and outtakes (with optional director's commentary) and your standard "making of" promotional video disguised as a "behind the scenes" featurette. The extras, including the commentaries, are amusing, but dispensable. The movie itself is dispensable. Avoid. (Fox)
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