A rather inane and dull family comedy, Carpool is merely a bundle of chase cliches surrounded by unappealing characters. Daniel (David Paymer) is a harried and overworked ad executive, and on the most important day of his business life (these things never happen on routine days, do they), his wife comes down with a miserable cold. Daniel reluctantly agrees to drive the carpool. The audience is then subjected to ten grueling minutes where the kids are introduced one by one, and are supposedly instantly endeared to the audience (well, they pretty much have to endear themselves instantly, for they aren’t given any further development past the intro). Juxtaposed with these introductions, we meet Franklin (Tom Arnold), the bumbling head of a bankrupt carnival, who’s planning a robbery to pay his creditors. As happenstance would have it, Franklin runs across another pair of robbers, and robs them instead of the bank. To make his getaway, he takes Daniel and the carpool of kids hostage. However he’s not a mean criminal…he’s just a big kid, and soon wins the hearts of his preadult passengers, though not those of the audience. Meanwhile, both the cops and the robbers are on Franklin’s tail, as the minivan darts through roadblocks, alleys, sidewalks and even a shopping mall, causing all sorts of destruction in the name of fun. Tom Arnold has his “big kid” act down cold, and manages to actually be more sympathetic than the annoying group of kids, though that’s not saying much. David Paymer is the harried dad with the heart of gold, though he merely passes at being irritable. The cops provide some slightly diverting slapstick, but after the fifth or sixth standoff make you wonder if they know roadblocks are supposed to actually block the road. Very very small kids might be amused by the burping contest jokes, but not much else…and there are plenty of better films out there for them to see. This ridiculous movie is purely a waste.
Included with the theatrical release of Carpool is a Warner Brothers short, Superior Duck. This remarkably unfunny short, starring Daffy Duck, makes you long for the Warner’s shorts of old. Instead, we are treated to pointless namedropping, with constant cameos by the like of Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety, The Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian, the Tazmanian Devil, Porky Pig and even Superman. Rather than striving for jokes, this seems more like one long ad for the upcoming Space Jam film. This pitiful short although apparently based on the likes of “Duck Dodgers in the 24th and 1/2 Century”, achieves none of the humor. At one point Foghorn Leghorn complains that “they just don’t make audiences like they used to…”, well actually WB doesn’t make cartoons like they used to. Don’t let this influence your decision to see Carpool. Both features don’t make the grade.