ARE WE THERE YET?
*** (out of 5)
January 21, 2005
Ice Cube as NICK PERSONS
Nia Long as SUZANNE KINGSTON
Aleisha Allen as LINDSEY KINGSTON
Philip Bolden as KEVIN KINGSTON
Jay Mohr as MARTY
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Brian Levant
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There are two times in the calendar year when you can be pretty sure that a lot of new theatrical releases will pretty much stink. One is in August, which is when most studios sneak out there big summer movies that couldn’t stand up to the earlier “Spider-Man 2” blockbusters. But at least in August, you’re getting films that at least had the intention of being something great.
The other dead time for movie releases is January. At this time, Hollywood is done unleashing the big Christmas movies and Oscar hopefuls. If you live in flyover country like me, at least in January, you get a chance to see the movies that were sneaked in under the Oscar deadline and are now getting wide releases, like “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Aviator.”
But then there are your standard January releases that are never intended to be Oscar contenders. This time, in my opinion, is the worst time for movies. So when a film is half-way decent in the January schedule, it does tend to stand out.
“Are We There Yet?” is one of those films. If it had been released during a big season – like the big summer push or during the holiday season – it would have been lost in the shuffle and been outshined by far superior films. But putting it up against the other films of the month, it really ain’t that bad.
This film is Ice Cube’s response to “Daddy Day Care,” showing his paternal side without losing his gangsta edge. In the movie, Nick (Cube) has the hots for Suzanne (Nia Long). He strikes up a relationship with her – just as friends, she insists – and the only things standing in his way of scoring are her two kids (Aleisha Allen and Philip Bolden).
In order to get on her good side, Nick agrees to escort her kids from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver for New Year’s Eve. However, he underestimates the kids’ attitudes. For half of the film, the two try to sabotage any possibilities that Nick and their mother will get together.
There’s plenty of physical comedy and slapstick humor in this film, kinda like a “Home Alone” road flick. It’s a fun ride for kids to see, although parents would behoove themselves to go through the “don’t try this at home” speech before and after seeing the movie.
I have heard some criticisms of this movie that the hellion kids don’t have to fact any consequences of their actions. But what do you expect? The kids, while playing extreme pranks, aren’t nearly as evil as they could be. And ultimately, they have a lot of heart.
Ice Cube does a fine job playing the sympathetic lead. He manages to play the sap and the cool guy at the same time. And although he got his start in the stronger rap culture, he’s definitely got a sensitive side to him.
That’s about all I have to say. I’m tapped out on this film, ‘cause after all, it really isn’t anything but fluff. But it can be fun if you know what you’re getting into.
“Are We There Yet?” is not a great film, but it’ll do. Remember, you can do a lot worse this month.