Comedian Martin Lawrence plays an overprotective father and teen favorite Raven-Symone is his independent-minded daughter on a cross-country adventure to find her just the right university. Alan Silverman has a look at the heartwarming new comedy film College Road Trip.
James Porter is police chief in a suburban community not far from Chicago in the American midwest; so when his teenaged daughter Melanie is ready for college, his plan has been for her to attend a university near their home. But Melanie has other ideas.
The chief reluctantly agrees to let her visit the Georgetown campus in Washington, D.C. ...but he insists on making it part of a father-and-daughter journey to visit several campuses. He thinks he can fool her into choosing the nearby school; but on their College Road Trip both parent and teenager discover a new respect for one another.
Martin Lawrence says the role of Chief Porter gave him a chance to go for laughs dealing with everything from an annoyingly cute pet pig to a busload of karaoke-singing tourists and a ridiculously corny counterpart on a road trip with his own daughter; but Lawrence says the occasionally slapstick comic story also has a warm heart.
"The subject matter is universal: a daughter leaving home," Lawrence notes. "Any parent, whether you are black, white, Chinese ...whatever you are, if you have a child leaving home that is dear to your heart and you're having trouble with that, you can relate to this film so this movie is for everybody.
"You can kind of take that as big as you want because it's a comedy, but the underlying heart ...the meaning of the thing ...is that it is hard to let them go," he adds.
Donny Osmond, who has gone from child singing star on TV in the 1960's to a successful Broadway career, plays Doug, another father on a road trip with his college-age daughter; but these two seem to come from a different world ...one in which breaking out in show tune duets is 'normal.'
"I really went over the top ...but when I saw it I thought 'man, it works'," he says.
Osmond says this is his first film in almost 30 years.
"The cool thing about this movie is that there is something for everybody and every age group. Parents can relate to not wanting to let their kids go. Teenagers and college students can relate to the plea 'let me go.' The kids love the pig ...so there's something in there for everyone," he says.
Veteran funny man Lawrence says Osmond's over-the-top performance had him cracking up when they were together on set.
"Yes, it did, but it was fun and made for fun energy ...just a good vibe, a good spirit around the set, so it was needed and it was enjoyable," Lawrence says. "I love people to make me laugh and crack up and I'm trying to hold a face in the scene. I love it, so it was a lot of fun for me."
Rounding out the cast, TV star and singer Raven-Symone plays the police chief's teenaged daughter Melanie, trying to assert her independence.
"I definitely identified with it, having a father and mother who were largely in my career ...and having to one day say 'hey, guys, I want to do this on my own," she says. "I want to be in charge of my own career.' That was my personal 'College Road Trip' type situation. The same thing happened to me that happened with Melanie: I had to gradually work my way with them in this and let them know that I was responsible enough and I could handle myself."
College Road Trip also features comedienne Kim Whitley as Melanie's ever-smiling and understanding mom. The film is directed by Roger Kumble and the musical soundtrack lets Raven-Symone debut her next single, an update of the song "Double-Dutch Bus."