Pack two disgruntled teenagers, one disappointed mom and a slightly dishonest dad into a gaudy, green RV and what do you have? A sure recipe for catastrophe.
Bob Munro (Robin Williams) is under a lot of pressure. In the office, an up-and-coming junior employee is threatening to take over his job. At home, his wife, Jamie (Cheryl Hines), is loving but somewhat distant and his children have permanently pasted earphones onto their heads. Everyone lives in his or her own little space. However, the kids are growing up and Bob realizes the time for bonding is short.
The perfect solution seems to be some close-quarter, quality family time. With that in mind, Bob rents an oversized recreational vehicle, persuades his peevish offspring, Cassie (Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson), to climb aboard and then heads for the mountains of Colorado.
Anyone who's subjected themselves and their kids to a road trip will likely relate to at least some of the poignant, if not painful, scenarios the Munros experience---bored passengers, a lack of privacy and a wide range of musical interests.
They also find themselves continually running into a busload of overly friendly, laid-back travelers called the Gornickes. Travis (Jeff Daniels) and Marie Jo (Kristen Chenowith) live full time in their vehicle with their three, home-schooled children (Hunter Parrish, Chloe Sonnenfeld, Alex Ferris). But despite their welcoming overtures to Bob and his family, the uptight Munros remain offish toward their fellow trekkers. It's only after Bob and Jamie experience one disaster after another that they start to appreciate what the Gornickes have.
Unfortunately many of those disastrous gags are likely to cause gagging themselves. Relying on bathroom language, potty jokes, fecal matter and an unsavory name for their home-on-wheels, the storyline, among other things, leaves Bob covered in sewage and later feigning diarrhea. The script also includes the frequent and casual use of terms of Christian deity along with some innuendo (mostly between married couples) and a few cases of disrespectful name-calling. In addition, Marie Jo's tight tank tops leave little to the imagination.
Still, Bob, Jamie, Cassie and Carl make inroads when it comes to rekindling their family ties, even if it is a little rough at times. Bob also discovers that the lifestyle he is trying so hard to provide for his wife and kids is in large part responsible for their estrangement. As well, the clan finds out it takes some unplugging of the gadgets in order to plug into family activities.
Although the Munros manage to survive their trek, most audience members will be happy to experience this kind of bumpy road trip from their theater seats instead of the backbench of an RV.