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Johnson Family Vacation (2004)

Wrong turn in Arizona. No brakes in Colorado. Arrested in Kansas. Its the ultimate family trip.

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 97 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12


As a general rule, spending lengthy periods of time cooped up in a car with your close relations really isn’t much fun. The family road-trip is a tried-and-tested breeding ground for sniping, bickering, deep discomfort and needing the toilet.

Despite the intrinsic all-out misery of the scenario, it’s picked on time and time again by the comic writers of Hollywood. Sure, sometimes it works, and you end up with a nice little slice of comedy like the first ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ or the original ‘Out-of-Towners’. But, for every success story to have been squeezed out of the formula, there’s a squirming guff-heap like Are We There Yet? or – in this case – ‘Johnson Family Vacation’.

The premise is pretty much what you’d expect from the title: there’s this family called the Johnsons, and they’re going on vacation (well, actually they’re headed for a mass family reunion, but it’s a vacation of sorts). Among the predictably-dysfunctional Johnson clan is the annoying-loud father Nate (Cedric the Entertainer), his estranged missus Dorothy (an embarrassed-looking Vanessa Williams), midriff-baring daughter Nikki (Solange “Beyonce’s sister” Knowles), hip-hop-lovin’ son D.J. (rapper-in-my-pocket Bow Wow) and family runt Destiny (Gabby Soleil). Together, they pile into their Burberry-encrusted chavmobile and set off on the nigh-on 2000-mile journey from LA to Missouri.

Ooh, I know what you’re thinking: “what wonderful array of hilarious mishaps will occur along the way?” Well, let me just stop you right there and tell you that the answer to that question is “absolutely none whatsoever”. ‘Johnson Family Vacation’ might play like a series of comedy sketches, but it’s all about as humorous as receiving rudimentary dental treatment. With its laugh-free screenplay and lousy direction from first-timer Christopher Erskin, this tiresome road trip runs out of gas well before the hour mark – but it’s not over there, because after that we still have to sit through the obnoxious reunion scenes, complete with cringe-worthy musical interludes.

Perhaps if it ended with the entire family climbing back into the car, turning on the exhaust and waiting silently in a sealed-up garage, I might just about be able to forgive those involved. But it doesn’t, so I can’t.

It's Got: An imaginary dog called Sir Barksalot, who manages to be funnier than any of them.

It Needs: Someone to explain why “Lil’ Bow Wow” is only called “Bow Wow” these days. Is it just me, or is the guy just not keeping it real any more? After all, he’s still “Lil’” as far as I can see.

DVD Extras On the bright side, this DVD comes without a single extra feature. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


This is one overly-long Johnson you’ll want to have cut off at the root.