Perhaps Johnson Family Vacation is intended as a reflection of the real-life tedium of clan car trips rather than a variation on the warm-hilarity-on-wheels we’ve come to expect from movie-comedy excursions. That’s the only reason I can fathom for such a wheezing contraption, which strands Cedric the Entertainer behind the wheel and forces him to motor a collection of laugh-and-learn wacky situations by sheer force of his outsize charm. And in this traffic jam, even that charm doesn’t cover the cost of gas and tolls.
As stuffy, middle-class burgher Nate Johnson, C the E loads up a Lincoln Navigator with his on-the-outs wife (Vanessa Williams) and a trio of sulking kids for a California-to-Missouri run to the annual family reunion. Mayhem includes a misunderstanding in a hot tub and the use of a soda cup for on-the-road urination, with disastrous consequences for the next thirsty person. Minor repair arrives in the person of Steve Harvey, who offers hectic riffs with his old partner in the role of Nate’s outlandishly competitive older brother.