Do you dream of a Georgetown where the Greek party scene is alive and thriving, the campus is connected to a high-end golf course and our school color is bright turquoise? Then College Road Trip is the perfect fantasy escape for you!
Melanie Porter’s (Raven-Symoné) dreams of attending Georgetown are dashed when she is waitlisted. But when Melanie melodramatically defends the Big Bad Wolf (“Huff and Puff is not Enough!”) in a mock trial competition, her legal prowess impresses the real judge presiding over the proceedings, who calls a friend in admissions. Melanie snags a last-minute interview and has just three days to drive hundreds of miles to D.C. with her overprotective police chief father (Martin Lawrence) who wants her to go to college close to home.
College Road Trip is exactly what you’d expect from a Disney road trip movie: a stampede of ridiculous gags, ranging from a potty-trained, chess-playing pig to a salsa-dancing grandmother. The film’s four writers assembled far too many bizarre and improbable scenarios, hoping that some would stick. Unfortunately, none do.
Most of the jokes fall flat—except for the pig, which was especially popular with viewers under ten years old. Parents will sympathize with the father’s predicament, sons and daughters will fear the tyrannical parent, and the clichéd father-daughter bonding moment near the end of the movie is the only scene that even hints at being remotely genuine.
The film’s highlight is when Raven sings “Double Dutch Bus.” This musical interlude is filmed more like a music video, complete with quick camera cuts, dance choreography and a Japanese tour bus full of backup singers. Luckily for the audience the song has no written dialogue, leaving viewers free to enjoy Raven’s boisterous vocals.
College Road Trip would have been better as a musical based on the real Georgetown, in the tradition of Disney’s monster hit, High School Musical. Melanie could sing a soulful ballad entitled “I Dream of Hibbert” and her father could respond with the angry rock number “You’ll get Robbed!”
But the Georgetown University in College Road Trip has disappointingly little in common with its namesake. The abundance of red brick is a telltale sign that the movie was not filmed on campus (not that it’s the filmmakers’ fault; the University has only let “The West Wing” film here, even turning down “The Sopranos”). And when Melanie finally gets to Georgetown in the final ten minutes of the film, after skydiving onto a golf course, the Georgetown she encounters is an obstacle course filled with sorority girls eager to recruit her.
If College Road Trip truly imitated life, Raven wouldn’t want to get into the fictional pre-law Cooper Program, but the SFS; she would have participated in Model U.N. instead of mock trial, and caught the admissions officer’s eye with a speech about Darfur rather than the Big Bad Wolf. Regardless of the liberal use of artistic license, though, College Road Trip’ s Georgetown references could have placed it in the honored company of Save the Last Dance, Election, St. Elmo’s Fire and The Girl Next Door. In the end, though, the film’s inane plot and irritating acting make it a top contender for one of the worst movies of the year.