Who's in It:
Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque
The Basics: It's National Lampoon's Vacation, but not as nasty, a k a "not as good."
What's the Deal? "Starring Robin Williams" are three of the most horrifying words in the English language, as far as I'm concerned. So I was prepared to use a big knife and fork on this one. But darn it; it doesn't suck. I mean, I know I just said it's not as good as Vacation, and it's not. They don't even have a decent "Holiday Road" song equivalent here. But it's much smarter and funnier than I ever imagined it could be, while simultaneously toeing the PG line enough so that you can take your kids.
Having Said That: Williams still manages to do his typical, manic, "I used to snort truckloads of cocaine in the 1980s" riffing from time to time, and that's when you remember how much you can't stand watching him. But those moments are mercifully few and brief. I think he goes off, like, twice. The worst one is when he does his Black Guy Rapper voice, a gag that proves he hasn't listened to hip-hop, ever, in his entire life. It's embarrassing, really, but somebody must think it's funny or he wouldn't keep doing it. Would he?
What Else Is Good: Teen pop star JoJo as Williams' daughter is a sharp-tongued presence. And the weird hick home-schooling family headed by Daniels and Chenoweth is like a G-rated version of that unsettling family band in last year's art-house freak-out Palindromes.
What's Annoying, Besides the Parts in Which Robin Williams Goes Off-Script: The way it has to shoehorn a lesson in at the end. There always has to be a lesson. Always.