PG for language and rude humor.
Jan. 21, 2005
Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen, Philip
Bolden, Jay Mohr
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'Are We There Yet?'
By Nathaniel Bell
- The trailer for Are We There Yet? is a better investment than the actual film. It’s bright, it’s funny, and best of all, it runs under three minutes. Brian Levant’s new comedy is loud, shrill, and stretched out to an impossible 92 minutes. Its attempt to wax sentimental after an onslaught of discomfiting humor is a gross miscalculation.
Former rap artist Ice Cube plays Nick Persons, a proud employee of a sports memorabilia shop trying to score points with an attractive single mother (Nia Long) by driving her bratty kids (Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden) cross-country in his shiny new Lincoln Navigator. The children, as you can probably guess from the previews, are violently opposed to their mother’s courtship by vain young men, and take sadistic delight in obstructing Nick’s romantic advances. Determined to make life a veritable hell on earth for Nick, they systematically destroy his SUV. The plot is largely a series of crude humiliations, as Nick is thrown from a horse, urinated on, mauled by a deer, and nearly emasculated by a Paul Bunyan statue. There’s also a doozey of a vomit gag, lovingly staged and shown in screaming close-up.
The gross-out humor might have gone down easier if the film hadn’t tried to justify its slapstick with a manipulative turn of events (condoning the kids’ abominable behavior by depicting them as victims of a broken home). Consequently, what could have been a sympathetic portrait of familial love instead feels like a contrived mess.
Ice Cube, who’s enjoyed a steady run of hits over the past two decades (Boyz n the Hood, Three Kings, Barbershop), is a charismatic actor with a refreshing proclivity for self-deprecation. He’s not afraid of silliness, and there’s something sweet about his willingness to fashion a family comedy. Although Nick Persons isn’t exactly a saint (at one point he growls, “Kids are like cockroaches, except you can’t squish ‘em.”), he’s an ingratiating presence—the only reason, in fact, to see this movie. The early scenes, in which he slowly begins to unravel, are easily the best. The rest is easily expendable, a long car ride with a dubious destination.
Are We There Yet? is rated PG for language and rude humor.
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Nathaniel Bell is a film student at Biola University. Review used
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