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April 2004

Johnson Family Vacation
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Christopher Erskin
Producers: Paul Hall, Cedric the Entertainer, Eric C. Rhone, & Wendy Park
Screenwriters: Todd R. Jones & Earl Richey Jones
Director of Photography: Shawn Maurer
Composer: Steve Bartek
Cast: Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams, Bow Wow, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Harvey, Jennifer Freeman, Solange Knowles, & Gabby Soleil.


After seeing how well they worked together on television with "The Steve Harvey Show" and then on the big screen with "The Kings of Comedy", it's disappointing to see Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer together again in the insipid film "Johnson Family Vacation". Obviously billed as a family film, the film offers nothing that any family with kids can relate to as the plot lines jump from right to left with no common ground.

Nate (Cedric the Entertainer) and his brother his Max Johnson are brothers who have always been competing with each other. When the family reunion approaches, Nate talks his estrange wife Dorothy (Williams) and his kids to go him for the family's sake. He then sets off on a road trip going from California to Mississippi in a brand new Lincoln Navigator he got. Not only does he plan to woo his wife back, Nate has watch out for any roadside incidents that may occur. When his son wants to play some of rap music on the car CD player, Nate throws some of favorites out of the window such Biggie and Tupac. He's still upset that the dealer didn't put in the 8-track tape player he wanted installed. When he takes a shortcut and winds up lost, Nate takes the family to a motel where he loses more than he bargained for. At some point during the ride, Nate also takes in a white hitchhiker (Shannon Elisabeth), much to chagrin of everyone in the car.

What should have been a laugh out comedy featuring two of the "Kings of Comedy" turned out to be a bore at times. Steve Harvey's talent is so wasted in the film, I wondered if he was doing Cedric a favor. The thing about Steve that makes his funny is that he usually brings the same type of humor he brought to other films such as "Love Don't Cost a Thing" or even "You Got Served". Cedric's performance is bland to say the least. He acted as if he was being restrained from being the funny guy we've come to know. Bow wow, in his first film without "Lil" and Solange Knowles, are okay but they they really don't provide any spark to the film. The other problem also lies with the script. Shannon Elizabeth is a talented person, but the whole scene with her wasn't humorous nor realistic. If you want to strike a chord with the audience, give them something they can relate with. The final scene in the film is just off the wall and unneccessary.