Watching Ice Cube in Are We There Yet?, I developed a new admiration for him. He's disarming and affable, and has a mischievous smile that let's us know he's having fun the whole time. But try as he may, Cube can't save this movie, in which he also served as a producer. That would be like emptying a flood area by using thimbles.
The awfulness of this movie is boundless. The scatological humor in the movie is already legendary, offering the big three: farting, peeing, and puking. The underage heroes are so reprehensible, I was nearly overcome with joy when they discovered their beloved father with another woman. Cube's character seeks counsel from a talking Satchel Paige bobble head, which is, well... adjectives fail me.
Let's just start with the plot, which has Oregonian entrepreneur Cube falling in love with a gorgeous single mom (Nia Long). However, Cube is skeptical, because he hates kids, comparing them to cockroaches. The sparks begin to fly when he offers her a ride to work, but he soon enters the dreaded "friend zone."
Looking to get out, he agrees to take her two kids, Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden) from Portland to Vancouver after she gets into a jam. The children, who are devoted to their departed dad, make it known very quickly that their mom's friend is not wanted. What starts as a simple plane ride, becomes a romper room version of Midnight Run, complete with misadventures, misunderstandings, and irreparable damage to Cube's cherry SUV.
Kids will love this movie. Director Brian Levant (Jingle All the Way, another turkey) knows what they want. Their peers get to wreak havoc on an adult, and get to see said adult later reach out for the kids' affection. Throw in potty humor, backtalk, and rudderless goofiness, and this is their movie of the year so far. (Yeah, we're only three weeks in, but expect the title to be held for awhile.)
Are We There Yet? inspired feelings in me that I usually reserve for international dictators and TV entertainment reporters. The kids whine and cackle and are presented without any redeeming qualities by the movie's four screenwriters. In the opening sequence, one of Long's dates gets pummeled, courtesy of an elaborate device rigged by the kids. It's supposed to be a triumphant scene, but the poor guy nearly gets killed. Why does he deserve this? And how does mom not notice her kids hooking up something so elaborate?
A family film (it's rated PG) should have kid characters whose actions parents don't need to spend two hours dissuading their own kids from following. Are We There Yet? could inspire a whole conference. And adults shouldn't have to sit through a movie that, aside from Cube's character, doesn't have a single character with a functioning cerebrum.
Watch at your own risk.
Is it over yet?