Robin Williams’ latest Hollywood vehicle has its own kitchen, sleeping quarters, luggage compartments and toilet, where the studio should have flushed the script the minute it crawled through the door. This vacation romp from director Barry Sonnenfeld offers a few very scattered laughs amid a relentlessly unfunny road trip of bad slapstick, shrieking performances and enough feces gags to make constipation sound like a viable lifestyle. Williams plays a family guy who takes his reluctant wife (Cheryl Hines) and kids (Joanna “JoJo” Levesque and Josh Hutcherson) on an RV trek to Colorado, concealing from them that it’s less a vacation than a business trip to hang on to his job. The movie’s a toned-down, family-friendly clone of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” that’s an embarrassment for Williams and Jeff Daniels, who co-stars as a good ol’ boy encountered on the road. Rated: PG for crude humor, innuendo and language. Rating: 1½ out of 4 stars. – David Germain, AP movie writer
The sense of dread creeps in long before the plane leaves the ground. It begins before you see the empty cabin for the first time, see the interior lights being switched on and hear the pilots and flight attendants chatting away as they prepare for another seemingly routine day in the sky. The dread truly begins before you leave the house for the theater – if you do, indeed, choose to see this film, and you should, even though you know it’s going to be agonizing.
You know what’s going to happen: that hijackers will take over United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco as part of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and that the passengers will struggle to conquer them until the moment the Boeing 757 nose-dives into a Pennsylvania field. Writer-director Paul Greengrass has shown remarkable restraint in telling this story in unadorned fashion. You’ll find no melodrama here – just raw, pure, documentary-style filmmaking, with hand-held camera and natural light. Greengrass captures the chaos of that horrific day with simplicity and dignity, and the fact that he’s chosen unknown actors heightens the already visceral sense of realism. It’s the most powerful, important film that no one will want to see. Rated: R for language, some intense sequences of terror and violence. Rating: 3½ out of 4 stars. – Christy Lemire, AP movie critic