Johnson Family Vacation

Starring:
  • St. Louis' Funniest Fat Man
  • Rick Fox's Wife
  • Lil Bow Wow

 

 
Directed by Christopher Erskin

Cedric and Erskin humor Steve Harvey as he tries to explain that the WB is a "real network."

Road to Nowhere

Watching the Travel Channel last week while waiting on the World Poker Tour, I caught the end of "Cedric the Entertainer's St. Louis"--which looks like a lot more fun than the St. Louis I know. To us Kansas City types, St. Louis is a yuppie hellhole with some expensive strip bars across the Mississippi River. But to Cedric the Entertainer, St. Louis is like...Kansas City. It's got soul and flavor; the best part is Cedric hitting the good jazz clubs. All both of them in St. Louis. This must explain why in Johnson Family Vacation, CtheE drags his family to the bootheel of Missouri to Caruthersville, Missouri. I've been to Caruthersville, and I thought I had a beat on what kind of town it is--you know, typical Missouri small town, just across the river from Tennessee. You could set a broad family comedy here, but like any other small town in Missouri, you could also set a serial killer movie there too. We're just that kind of state.

Johnson Family Vacation leaves me with one question: Does CtheE think that his time's almost up, better cash in now? First off, this Black Griswold character doesn't make any sense: In the beginning of the movie, C is a completely sold out insurance rep-- playing a white stereotype. And then when his wife (Vanessa Williams) starts giving him trouble, C busts out the Blackness, playing another stereotype--he wants to fight her weakling "study date", or take out crooked mechanics, or casino-owning Indians that want to fuck his daughter, who is hot enough to be Beyonce's sister. Whoa! The imdb says that she actually is Beyonce's sister. But I digress--the rule here is this, Cedric: Find one stereotype and stick to it. Don't confuse the audience by trying to be Wayne Brady and Bernie Mac in the same movie. Or ABC's Wayne Brady and Dave Chapelle's Wayne Brady, if you see my point.

And then there's Lil Bow Wow in the Rusty role. Yes, he gets to rap--at the end, when the gang lands in Caruthersville. (If there's a Johnson Family European Vacation, will Bow Wow play Black Rusty again? For consistency's sake, I hope not.) I guess this movie is supposed to be about CtheE and Vanessa Williams really loving each other and getting back together, but I don't have any idea why they would be together in the first place. First off, Radio Shack has informed us that Vanessa is married to Rick Fox, a Laker who can't shoot, but on the plus side probably knows whether or not Kobe really did it. Vanessa Williams is just gorgeous, so no offense to CtheE, but she's out of your league, bro! She's Vanessa f'n Williams!

Most of the gags revolve around CtheE being horny, which explains Shannon Elizabeth's appearance and why this is such a delightful family comedy. She's a hitchhiker, and as it turns out, a Satanist. But C thinks it's a good idea to shack her up in the hotel with the fam. And then he fights a giant rat she uses to conduct Satanic rituals. And then they leave her at the hotel. I guess. After she bounces around the movie in skimpy tops. What the hell is going on in this movie?

Ok, so finally the crew makes it to Caruthersville. If I'm following them correctly, they drive I-44 right through Springfield. Which would boost our minority population by a full 5% for the five minutes it takes to drive by here. They've battled SUV problems, and Bow Wow had to take a pee in a bottle, which C almost drinks. No wonder Vanessa hates him. Thankfully, Steve Harvey is waiting on them in Caruthersville. Like I said, I've been to Caruthersville, and I don't exactly remember seeing anything like this: The Johnson Family "Family of the Year" is decided by a sack race and a variety show competition. To be fair, I've never been to the Caruthersville City Park, which is filled with Johnsons, and this is where you can insert your own joke. Steve Harvey hits on Vanessa Williams, and then CtheE and Steve Harvey's mother (they're brothers in the movie) talks about how much she hates Vanessa Williams. What the hell is she talking about? He's a fat dancing fool, and she's been in Playboy and is married to a Laker. There's "Missouri Values" (thank you John Ashcroft), and then there's Missouri Values. My Missouri Moral Compass reads that being married to Vanessa Williams is a good thing, especially when you're from Caruthersville--no offense to the fine folks of Caruthersville, of course. So Vanessa all of a sudden wants to be the mommy of the Johnson Family of the Year, and so they all dance around while Bow Wow raps. In the Caruthersville City Park, with all these Johnsons jumping around by this elaborate stage. Steve Harvey gets mad, which would have been a perfect opportunity to drop Uncle Bernie Mac and Nephew Hughley into the mix and let the movie get really crazy. Instead, CtheE dresses up like Eddie from Barbershop and pretends to be a randy automechanic. Then they leave Caruthersville and go back to California. The end. And this movie has been in the top ten for three weeks and has made $25 million dollars. God bless America, and God bless Missouri.

The Pitch:
 
1 National Lampoon's Vacation
Plus
 
Eddie from Barbershop
Equals
     
1 Johnson Family Vacation
See It For:

Cedric and Steve Harvey think they see D.L. Hughley trying to pretend that he's in the movie too.