But we just returned from a cross-country RV trip and had some pretty fun adventures. Along the way, more than one person said we just had to rent the movie RV, starring Robin Williams.
So I did (…despite my better judgment, because the previews just didn’t look all that great).
Surprisingly, there were a bunch of funny moments.
I can’t help but think that RVers will appreciate seeing some real-life moments play out in the movies (…albeit somewhat exaggerated, of course).
Highlights From The Movie
This well-to-do family of 4 had originally planned on a summer vacation in Hawaii. However, to satisfy his boss’s wish to meet a deadline on a business proposal, the dad (Robin Williams) agreed to switch his family’s vacation destination to Colorado — that way he’d be able to meet briefly with some big-wigs at their offices in Colorado.
The mom (Cheryl Hines) reluctantly accepted the idea to go RVing on this vacation, so long as it meant “no laptop, no Blackberry, and no business calls.”
The dad looked at the RV trip as an opportunity to get back in touch with his teenage kids. Especially since he realized he didn’t have many more years left with them still at home.
The kids don’t realize they’re going RVing until a big ugly green RV pulls up in front of their house, and their father is driving it. It’s the RV he had rented for their summer vacation.
Dad: Before we embark, I think we should give this beauty a name. Any suggestions?
Daughter: The big turd.
Son: The big rolling turd.
…and that’s exactly what they called it all throughout the movie. “All aboard the big rolling turd!”
The first 5 minutes of the movie are slow and boring, but they needed to lay the groundwork and show the dysfunctional family (and work) relationships that would play out during the family’s RVing trip. (Hang tight… it gets funnier.)
For example, there’s one funny scene where the dad is taking the RV to his business meeting (while his family is hiking, so they don’t even notice he’s gone), and he ends up on an ungraded “4WD only” road. All the way, he’s arguing with the female voice on his Magellan Roadmate 700 (aka “Lola”), when she’s instructing him to take “the next legal u-turn”. (That’s one of the most familiar lines repeated by GPS units everywhere — including our own. It happens whenever you take a route other than the one suggested by the GPS.)
Eventually, they meet a family of full-time RVers. At first, they seem even more cuckoo than the banjo-toting hillbillies who helped them figure out how to empty the septic lines on the RV.
Despite how much they try to avoid the fulltimers at every stop along the way, the fulltimers knew where they were heading, so they stuck to them like glue.
In the end, the fulltimers end up saving the day, by getting the dad to his business meeting on time. And, after several funny scenarios, the dad wins everyone over — including his own family — who thanks him for taking them on this RV trip.
Funny Lines From The Movie
Dad: Wait til you see this… it’s called a pop out! (e.g. slideout) How cool is that?
Daughter: That’s Macarena cool.
Dad: Son, maybe now is the time to confess to you that your dad is not the master of all things.”
Son: Yeah, I kinda got that impression when you started taking advice from morons.
Dad: All we need is a banjo, huh? (…he says as he’s up to his elbows in sewage from his attempt to clean out the septic lines filled to the gills with “goodies” from the previous renters of this particular RV).
Mom: Is dinner ready yet?
Dad: It’s a small oven. I’m having to do the potatoes with a hairdryer set on High.
Sign before you exit the RV park:
Don’t forget… TV, awning, steps, wife. (Jeff Daniels actually left without his wife once.)
I Learned A Thing Or Two
I actually learned a few things while watching this movie:
- When you need gloves to dump the septic lines (or pump diesel gas at a truck station) and you don’t have any… use plastic baggies instead. One on each hand.
- Yes you can put an RV through a 3-point turn… on a neighborhood street… with curbs. Not only did Jim do it on our most recent RV trip, but Robin Williams did it in this movie as well… sort of.
One-Liners About RVs From The Movie’s Cast (via DVD Extras)
“RVs are funny for a lot of reasons. First of all they look funny. They’re sort of gangly. They’re too long. And they’re too big.” — Barry Sonnenfeld (the director)
“It’s crazy isn’t it?… Look at that RV, it’s like a camper on steroids.” — Robin Williams (the dad)
“People love it… it’s a whole other subculture happening in America.” — Cheryl Hines (the mom)
“RVs are fun. They’re really not just for senior citizens. They’re a great toy … But as soon as you leave the lot where you rent it, something goes wrong.” — Jeff Daniels (the dad from the full-time RVing family)
“Everything that happens in the movie I’ve done… almost.” — Jeff Daniels (Jeff even drove his RV from Michigan to Vancouver to star in the movie.)
“You sleep in tiny things that fall down, and pull down and pop out.” — Cheryl Hines
“They’re driven usually by people that shouldn’t be driving RVs.” — Barry Sonnenfeld
“They’ve got a wide turning radius — a lot like the ladies in bicycle shorts at Disneyland. If you don’t go really wide on a turn, you realize they can do a lot of damage.” — Robin Williams
“From the female and kids’ point of view, I think having an RV is very much like having a dollhouse or a playhouse. You can make it cozy and personal in a few moments.” — Lucy Fisher (producer)
“People act like they’re this big luxurious item. But you’re taking a shower with one of the little spray hoses… like you wash your kitchen dishes with.” — Cheryl Hines
“A lot of times when you’re on vacation everybody does their own thing. And being in an RV is a very nice way for your family to all be together. And I think that’s part of the appeal.” — Lucy Fisher
“It becomes about the journey, not just the destination.” — Jeff Daniels
“And then once you get to the place [RV park], it’s usually with a lot of other families who went through the same hell to get there. It’s like ‘great… get in the lake!'” — Robin Williams
“RV parks are surreal. They’re like golf courses — which are also surreal. And then you invade the landscape with these tall strangely painted RVs. You’re surrounded by natural beauty driving a really unnatural looking thing.” — Barry Sonnenfeld
“RVs… it’s a whole way of life. This movie might really spark it up again and really have people going.” — Cheryl Hines
Little-Known Facts About The RV Movie
- The movie was filmed in Canada (mostly in Vancouver).
- Robin Williams was their first choice for this movie.
- In the opening scene which flashes back to an earlier period, Cheryl Hines (the mom) is holding a toddler in her arms. That is her daughter in real life, Catherine. Catherine was playing “young Carl”, the name of the teenage boy in this movie.
At first we thought we could get an RV by talking to various RV dealers and manufacturers, but they all wanted to have some control over the script. They said we’ll give you free RVs, but you can’t have the brakes not work. Or you can’t drive fast or poorly. So we realized we were going to have to buy RVs. So we bought somewhere between 6 and 8 RVs from a manufacturer — all white. The next thing we did was try to find some hideous colors to paint it. — Barry Sonnenfeld
- On the side of the RV is a picture of “Irv”… the cowboy spokesman for the RV rental company. “Irv” is actually a 9 foot 6 inch tall rendition of the movie’s director, Barry Sonnenfeld himself!
- Sonnenfeld’s forte is comedy. And he’s definitely quite the character. In a featurette on the DVD he says of himself: “…some people feel I’m neurotic.” (Based on the DVD extras… he is!)
Two Barry Sonnenfeld quotes that summarize the man & his style:
- “To me the secret to good comedy is to say it fast & just move on. Don’t milk it.”
- “You know growing up, I never thought I would be in the film business … I assumed that what I would be is like an incredibly excellent FedEx driver.”
- Sonnenfeld’s 12-year-old daughter, Chloe also has a small role in the movie. She’s the teenage daughter in the full-time RVing family.
- JoJo (a popular singer) was a major character in the movie. She played Robin Williams’ daughter. But I have to say, it got old watching her play such an angry teen with a huge scowl on her face all the time. (I like that she writes her own music though, and based on the DVD extras, she seems like a really sweet person in real life… which means she’s a really good actor!)
- This movie was produced by Doug Wick & Lucy Fisher of Red Wagon. It was an experience they had RVing that made them think this would be a funny movie about RVing.
RV is a fun movie. Not “laugh out loud” funny, but “chuckle ha ha” funny.
I’m convinced that only those with some RV experience (or those who anticipate a future RV trip) would rate this movie positively. For everyone else, it’s probably just too silly stupid. (But sometimes those are fun to watch, too.)
It’s a harmless movie that would probably be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
And the DVD extras are quite interesting.
For What It’s Worth…
Another similar type of movie… only they’re roadtripping with motorcycles instead of RVs is Wild Hogs. It’s also stupidly silly, but fun. If you’re thinking of doing a cross-country road trip via motorcycle (a longtime dream of ours), then you’ll probably enjoy the Wild Hogs movie as well.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).