MINIVAN Image

MINIVAN

By Merle Bertrand | December 4, 2001

Remember the minivan? Sandwiched somewhere in our vehicular history between the wood-paneled Country Squire station wagon and our current nod to overindulgence, the SUV, the minivan in the late 1980s through the nineties was — and still is — for the terminally unhip — the preferred mode of family transportation. Nothing, in fact, quite screamed “Suburbia” like a minivan.
A family of such suburbanites rides in one of these four-wheeled boxcars in director Peter John Ross’ tepid short “Minivan.” It’s a family like most others; that is to say the family that squabbles together stays together. Most vocal is Jackie (Jessica Harris) who shouts the insults and barbs at her hapless father (David Carrol) just loud enough to be heard over the din caused by her younger siblings and distract him. One can only wonder if the ungrateful daughter’s words would have been so harsh had she known the tragic fate that was in store for them all.
“Minivan” is unfortunately every bit as bland as its namesake vehicle. Though the film’s message seems to be that ol’ “Live every moment as if it was your last…” standby, it’s a message that falls as flat as the gray paint on a Windstar. Much of this is due to the general obnoxiousness of everyone in the van. I’m sure somebody somewhere would miss them if they’re gone, but not me. Five minutes was more than enough time to spend with this bunch.
Additionally, the curious choice to shoot in Super 8 doesn’t help this film’s cause, either. Vibrant and edgy when properly used, the washed out colors and flat look of the film here lends a gloominess to “Minivan” that has nothing to do with the film’s gritty aftermath.
“Minivan” doesn’t really stand up too well as its own film. Nor does it really do the trick, given its odd emotional detachment, as an engaging set-up for a longer film. Instead, this unremarkable mini-drama will simply follow the lead of its titular motor vehicle and drive off into oblivion.

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