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Road trip runs out of gas

Orlando CityBeat Writer

I'd really like to meet the guy in Hollywood who has ideas like "What if we remade National Lampoon's Vacation with Cedric the Entertainer?"

Actually, I guess the guy I really want to meet is the guy who heard this idea and said "sounds great!" That guy oughta be slapped like a bystander at a Springer taping.

If you saw the original Vacation, you know the essential plot of this one. Cedric the Entertainer is affable enough as the middle-class putz, Vanessa Williams has got to be wondering what she was doing playing his wife, Bow Wow (not so Lil' any more) puts energy but no talent whatsoever into his part, Solange Knowles proves that the talent in her family stays with Beyonce, and Gabby Soleil is so precocious the Olsen Twins are threatening to sue.

This family must travel halfway across the US to return to the Missouri-based family reunion, with his wise-cracking-but-lovably-funky mom (Aloma Wright) and ultra-competitive brother (Steve Harvey -- smarmy is his forte). Set piece after set piece of ludicrous and ostensibly hilarious situations ensue, and, as the laws of this film genre require, everyone in the film are portrayed as buffoons.

To be fair, there are a few cute laughs sprinkled throughout the picture. In a large, raucous group that are well-lubricated and pre-disposed to have a good time, this movie might even keep you chuckling all the way through. But you gotta work at it, and the insultingly simplistic comedy (which, in spots, makes The Three Stooges look positively art-house) only gets worse the closer you get to the big musical number that passes for the climax of the film.

Surprisingly, this movie is all about Cedric the Entertainer, who carries the entire flick. While Cedric does a fine job playing the hapless dad, he takes a very wrong turn into Eddie Murphy territory by also playing his own idiot cousin in a few scenes. Eddie can usually pull it off; Cedric can't.

I should warn audiences, even those who might be of good spirit enough to forgive the movie's dumbed-down plot and questionable appeal, that there is a simply astonishing amount of Midwest-bashing in the second half of the film. Missourians in particular are likely to be as offended as Jews at a Mel Gibson Film Festival by the nonstop portrayal of all Missourians as ludicrously stupid hillbillies.

Missouri: the New France, apparently.

Please god, don't let them remake Caddyshack.

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