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Audiences hit the road with Robin Williams as his family-vacation romp “RV” opened at No. 1 with $16.4 million last weekend.
According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, the film is receiving some internal reviews from recreational vehicle industry officials regarding the image portrayed about RVs, and the lifestyle.
“The RV industry didn’t make the movie, Hollywood did, so you’re going to see over-the-top situations,” said Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the National Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) in Fairfax, Va.
Sure, it reinforces some stereotypes about the people who drive RVs, “but when you clear all that away, you get some real good family bonding messages,” he said.
In “RV,” Robin Williams plays Bob Munro, a California soda company executive whose family is over-scheduled and drowning in gizmos and instant messages. So he drags them on a road trip in a rented Class A motor home – a Georgetown model, built by Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc.
Ingrassia sent a memo to members of the dealers association telling them to be prepared to talk about some of the issues raised in the movie, such as whether RVs are difficult to drive.
“It’s definitely raising the visibility of RV travel, and it’s definitely going to reach a lot of people,” he said.
Whether those people will be compelled to buy an RV could be a different story, said Mark Bowersox, recreation vehicles director for the Indianapolis-based Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council.
“I don’t know that it will drive people toward or away from the industry,” Bowersox said. “I think it can be seen as a positive.”
Many in the industry were nervous about what the movie would depict when it was first announced, said Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RV Business magazine.
“There was a suspicion that it might be hypersatirical,” Goldenberg said. “It’s becoming evident that it’s not worst-case satire, nor is it a great body of work. It’s something rather depressingly in the middle.”
Don and Carol Wieringa, full-time RVers from Loveland, Colo., caught the movie Friday afternoon at Cinemark Movies 14 in Mishawaka, Ind. Many of the madcap antics in the movie are Hollywood creations, but others are firmly based in reality, the Wieringas said.
The Wieringas represent “tens of thousands of people who have built their lives around these pieces of equipment,” said Goldenberg.
The “mark this is going to leave on the cinematic universe is very, very small,” it’s not going to hurt the feelings of RV enthusiasts, either, Goldenberg said.
“It’s a conveyance to a lot of people’s dreams, and therefore a lot of us care about preserving those dreams,” he said. “We’re very happy to acknowledge that this movie did not upset them in any way, shape or form.”