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April 13, 2004 > Johnson Family Vacation

Johnson Family Vacation

Rated PG-13 for some sexual reference, crude humor, and brief drug material

by Susana Nuņez

For Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey fans everywhere, the Johnson Family Vacation is sadly, a bust. Where Cedric and Steve left their Kings of Comedy humor is unknown, but what could have been a hilarious film is merely "ok." With an exceptional cast that includes Vanessa Williams, Solange Knowles, and rapper Bow Wow, audiences are left wanting more after watching the film.

Nate Johnson (Cedric the Entertainer) decides to get his family together for a cross-country trip from California to Missouri for the annual Johnson Family Reunion. Although they haven't made an appearance in a few years, Nate feels confident that his family can win the annual family tournament. His wife Dorothy (Vanessa Williams) and kids, however, have grown apart, making the task more difficult. His daughter Nikki (Solange Knowles) has reached the dreaded teenage years and adopted the attitude that comes with them; his son DJ (Bow Wow) aspires to become a rapper and talks of nothing more than his future wealth in designer clothing and expensive cars; and his youngest daughter Destiny (Gabby Soliel) is toting around an imaginary dog. Aside from the kids, Nate and his wife have been having problems, separated for three months. Does this stop Nate from attempting to beat his older brother Mack (Steve Harvey) and his family in the Johnson Reunion tournament? Nope.

The film starts off on the right foot, when Nate goes to pick up his Lincoln Navigator from an auto-shop. Hoping to find the 8-track he requested installed in his car, instead he finds a car equipped with hydraulics, spinning rims, and a suede and Burberry designer interior. DJ is thrilled, and since Nate declared he'd be on "I-10 by 10," there's no time to get everything removed.

From that moment forward, the film goes downhill with few exceptions. The trip to Missouri lasts too long. The film could have been easily saved by making cutting much of the trip to the reunion and extending the more entertaining scenes at the reunion when Nate reunites with his brother, Mack.

Director Christopher Erskin, makes his feature film directorial debut with Johnson Family Vacation. With videos for Snoop Dog, Missy Elliot, R. Kelley, Blackstreet, Boyz II Men, and T.Boz of TLC under his belt, he finally made his move to the big screen, yet he is short of a comedy hit. Audiences will not be pleased to see that such talented comedians as Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey do not live up to their expectations. Even if you've watched Kings of Comedy fifty times, it is fun to watch the tape again. It's still more entertaining than the Johnson Family Vacation.

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