Even A.A.A. can't help the Johnson family on this roadtrip for Nate Johnson and his family who embark on a cross-country trek to their annual family reunion/grudge match. Reluctantly along for the ride are Nate's wife, who's only in it for the kids; their rapper-wannabe son; their teenage daughter, who's fashioned herself as the next Lolita; and their youngest, whose has an imaginary dog that Nate just can't seem to keep track of, no matter how he tries. Can the Johnsons survive each other and all the obstacles that the road throws at them, to make it to Caruthersville, Missouri? Can they even find Missouri?
A long drive in search of a family comedy, which is found too late and amounts to too little. For most of the movie, Cedric the Entertainer must stifle his natural gifts to play a put-upon Los Angeles insurance salesman on his way to a family reunion with his half-estranged wife and semi-unruly children. There are a few obstacles along the way a Satan-worshipping hitchhiker, a hot tub full of fat women, an out-of-control 18-wheeler all of them funnier on paper than on screen. A bit of relief arrives at the end, when Cedric reappears, with gray hair and a thick country accent, as Nate's Uncle Earl, and Steve Harvey does some exuberant mugging as his rivalrous older brother. On the road, though, the most lively performer is Nate's maroon Lincoln Navigator, replete with Burberry interior, 26-inch rims and other thugged-out features. A. O. Scott
2004-04-07 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Johnson Family Vacation