Cedric the Entertainer is funny. Steve Harvey is also funny – but not in this movie. Johnson Family Vacation is a weak attempt at wholesome family comedy, which, when it’s not busy boring you to death with trite plot contrivances, jabs you with painfully unfunny jokes.
The premise of the family vacation gone awry has been done and redone, and this time around it’s no better. Cedric plays an uptight father figure, who attempts to bring his family together in order to win a trophy at the upcoming family reunion. Steve Harvey plays his brown-nosing and vindictive older brother, with too much screen time, and too little motivation. Vanessa Williams plays Cedric’s (inexplicably) estranged wife. Her only modes of expression seem to be a raised eyebrow, eye rolling and an incredibly fake come-hither look.
The kids, Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s little sister), Bow Wow and Gabby Soleil, lack talent. Bow Wow spends the whole movie mugging like a ventriloquist dummy. The only time he seems even slightly natural is when he raps in the regrettable final sequence.
Beyond the uninspired script, boring camera work and bad acting, two major things about this movie stand out – the fact that large sequences of it play like a commercial for the Lincoln Navigator and the film’s schizophrenic attitude towards women. Every time an attractive woman appears, Cedric or another male character act like a cartoon dog in heat. When a handsome casino employee hits on the daughter character, Cedric freaks out with an entirely over-the-top display of protective machismo that is embarrassing to watch. The message here seems to be that respect is only for women you are closely related to. Weird for a family movie, no? Even Cedric’s costumed- cameo is an irritating disappointment.
The saddest part about this film is nonsensical reactions are used in place of any actual humor or real warmth between the characters. It’s hard to believe that America is so starved for good family entertainment that somebody thought that this movie would go over well. Skip it, take your kid to the playground and rent The Kings of Comedy for after their bedtime.
Carrie Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org