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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Rv (Blu-ray)
Rv (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG // August 15, 2006 // Region A
List Price: $38.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 16, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

When I was in junior high in the late 70's, the show one that everybody had to watch was Mork and Mindy.  Yes, it was a spin-off from Happy Days, but it was a funny spin-off.  If you happened to miss it, you were fated to hear all the jokes from the show repeated, and quite badly, the next day at school.  That's because the star of the show, Robin Williams was a much better comedian that anyone in my junior high.  He was zany and silly and could tell jokes faster than you could decipher them, a true comic talent.  After his TV series, he made the jump to the big screen with no little amount of success (eventually, we'll forget Popeye for now.)   He even made a smooth transition to dramatic roles, something many comics try but few can pull off.  That's why it's RV is a bit of a mystery; what possessed this talented actor to star in this movie?  With a plot that could have been stolen from a 60's live-action Disney film (complete with saccharine ending and obvious 'moral') with some scatological humor thrown in for good measure, this movie generally fails, even with Williams at the helm.

Bob Munro (Williams) is a highly paid executive in a high stress job.  His kids are growing older and about to leave the nest, so he plans to take everyone to Hawaii for one last family vacation.  That is until his stereotypical mean boss tells him that he has to cancel the trip in order to iron out the difficulties in a proposed merger with a company in Colorado.  Instead of actually telling his wife (Cheryl Hines) that his job is riding on this, he rents an RV and claims that he wants to bond with the kids on America's highways and drives to the meeting in Colorado.  Mayhem ensues, as it always does on cross country trips in the movies.  Things get even more unpleasant for Bob and his family when they run into Travis and Marie Jo Gornicke (Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth) and their family, a set of over enthusiastic and very hick RV family who want to be friends with the Munros and won't take "no" for an answer.

The laughs in this film are few and far between.  I'm not even sure why some of the situations were even included.  They weren't funny, they didn't advance the plot, and they didn't seem to add anything to the film.  A lot of the jokes that are included are either very easy or low brow humor or both: Williams riding down the side of a mountain on an out of control bicycle, a full RV toilet exploding all over the main character, and the RV, which has no brakes when it's parked apparently, running over shopping carts, cars, and rolling into lakes.

The verbal humor isn't much better.  It seems that they lifted much of the dialog from old sitcoms.  The two Munro kids always have a smart-ass remark for everything that Mom or Dad says.  Dad: Good news everybody!  Daughter: I'm adopted?  Waa-ha-ha.  That sure left my knee sore.

The movie isn't entirely bereft of laughs.  I did enjoy the scene where racoons invade the motor home, but that could be because it hits close to home.  When I returned from my summer vacation a couple of weeks ago I discovered that a family of racoons had moved into my laundry room via the pet door.  Williams reaction was similar to mine, and that got some laughs.  If you've never come face-to-face with a racoon in your house, it might not have the same effect though.

The movie unfolds in typical fashion and it won't be hard for anyone over the age of 5 to figure out what happens way before the film comes to its climax.  The 'family and friends are what's important' ending will have everyone rolling their eyes.  It may have worked for Disney 40 years ago, but it just seems cliched, worn out, and worst of all contrived today.

The DVD:


 
Note: The only Blu-Ray DVD player on the market at the time of this review is the Samsung BD-P1000. Apparently an error crept into the design, and a noise reduction algorithm on one of the chips was turned on which creates a softer picture. As yet there is no fix for this, or even an official announcement from Samsung.

Video:

The 2.40:1 widescreen image actually looked pretty good.  The first things you notice are the bright colors that populate the film and these come through with impressive clarity.  The flesh tones look natural and the saturation is good.  There are many scenes where the images nearly pop off the screen too.  The definition is very good and the detail is excellent.  Blacks are generally solid too.  The transfer is uneven though.  I was surprised to notice that a minority of scenes appear very flat and not as vibrant as the rest of the film.  There were only a few areas like this though, but it's too bad there had to be any.

Of course there is some digital noise that infects large patches of color, something that has marred most other Blu-Ray discs that I've seen.  It wasn't that bad in this case though, and after a while I hardly noticed that it was there.  While I might not have liked the film, this high definition disc does look good.

Audio:

This disc has an uncompressed PCM 5.1 English soundtrack as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French.  Being a recent film, the audio reproduction is excellent, with good range and clear sounding tones across the spectrum.  The mix itself was concentrated in the front, with some effects being through to the rear in a very obvious manner.  There's not a lot of subtlety in the way the rears were used, but then again it's not a subtle movie.  The audio definitely fits the tone of the film.

Extras:

Bucking the trend for Blu-Ray discs, RV actually has a good number of extras, though not as many as you'll find on the SD DVD.  First off is a "telestrator commentary" by director Barry Sonnenfeld.  What is a telestrator commentary you ask?  It's a regular commentary where the person talking can draw lines and circles on the screen.  The visual part was pretty useless, and the commentary is very dry.  Barry talks in a monotone and sounds as if even he's having trouble keeping his interest.  The comments he makes aren't that insightful either.  In addition to that, there are five featurettes:  Barry Sonnenfeld: The Kosher Cowboy has several other filmmakers talking about Sonnenfeld, Jo-Jo: The Pop Princess is a five minute look at the person who played the daughter in the film.  She's a big pop star according to this featurette though I've never heard of her (and don't expect to see much more of her after the poor job she did in this film.)  RV Nation: The Culture of Road Warriors has the creators saying how wonderful RVing in for over 11 minutes.  Finally Robin Williams: A Family Affair is a five minute of people saying how great and wonderful Williams is.

They did leave off the gag reel, storyboard comparisons and a series of alternate scenes that are available on the standard definition DVD.

Final Thoughts:
 
I will admit that I was amused at a couple of scenes in this film.  A lot of the gags don't work, and the verbal humor was less funny than the average episode of an average sitcom.  My 10-year-old did enjoy it a lot more than anyone else in the family, so that should give you an idea of where the film is aiming.  The Blu-Ray disc did look good and sound nice, so that's something.  It's not enough to recommend the disc for purchase though.  If you are in the mood for some mindless humor or you need to entertain a bunch a young kids, this would be worth a rental.

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