Publicity Stills of "Are We There Yet?"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Brian Levant
Starring: Ice Cube, Nia Long, Jay Mohr and Tracy Morgan
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Clean)

Release Date: 12 May 2005 (Exclusively at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard)


In Revolution Studios’ family comedy Are We There Yet?, Nick (Ice Cube), a smooth operator, is trying to land a date with a young, attractive divorcee, Suzanne (Nia Long). Problem is Suzanne is stuck working in Vancouver and miserable because she misses her kids. Seizing the opportunity, Nick gallantly offers to make her wish come true – and his own in the process – by bringing seven-year-old Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden) and eleven-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) up from Portland, Oregon to be reunited with their mom.

What Nick doesn’t know is that Suzanne's children think that no man is good enough for their mom and will do everything they can to make the trip a nightmare for him.
Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Movie Review:

If you haven’t heard of Ice Cube, this May should get you acquainted with the rapper-turned-actor. Besides occupying the title role in the summer blockbuster “xXx: State of the Union”, he shares first billing in “Are We There Yet?”, a “family comedy” directed by Brian Levant, and featuring Cube’s third and latest collaboration with Nia Long.

Oh, Ice Cube, what have you done?

Nick Persons (Ice Cube) is a “blingage”-toting sports memorabilia storeowner who flings footballs freely at children and hollers wildly at them when they are up to mischief in his shop. After a particularly energetic display of violence towards two cheeky imps, he declares children “cockroaches” that can’t be “squished”. Yeah, he hates kids. He is fond, though, of the word “blingage” and frequently uses it even when no apparent reason subsists, which suggests that he has a mental capacity of a “cockroa…” – never mind. He also has an annoying and rather disturbing habit of talking to a toy figurine, which suggests that he has a mental capa…- oh, never mind. Predictably, he falls in love with a beautiful divorcée, Suzanne (Nia Long), who (of course) has two terrors as children. Twenty minutes and several plot contrivances later, Nick, in hope of winning Suzanne’s good graces, agrees to bring the two kids to Vancouver for New Year’s, which leads to a melee of farcical gags, replete with pee-pee jokes and the systematic destruction of Nick’s brand new SUV. I know, hilarious, right?

Now, begging your pardon, allow me establish two extremely random facts before I go on; perhaps they may enlighten one of the less than flattering grade I have given to this movie – I have a general liking of cars, and I have a soft spot for kids. “Are We There Yet?” is a movie that massacres both. Suzanne’s two children, Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Phillip Bolden), are nothing short of brats: they are downright obnoxious and can garner little (if any) sympathy or affection from the audience. On top of that, Ice Cube is actually pretty nice and accommodating as Nick, who’s seemingly of relentless cheer and an inert fuse, which in turn makes his prolonged torture by the kids extremely unpleasant to sit through. It’s almost like watching a wrestling match between Winnie the Pooh and Chucky’s offspring. Almost.

Furthermore, they destroy the SUV! Not cool.

But I digress. On a fundamental level, “Are We There Yet?” has failed embarrassingly as a movie. It is neither imaginative nor genuine, the writing and ideas as trite as they are insensitive. There are elaborate gags that may elicit some laughs, but everything gets tired within a while – the movie irritates more than it entertains. The end product, therefore, comes across as juvenile and pretty much a complete waste of resources (poor, poor SUV).

Almost all the characters are slaughtered, with the probable exception of the supporting cast, but that’s perhaps only because they didn’t stick around long enough to be offed by the writers. Nick’s gradual evolution into a paternal figure is awkward and quite unbelievable, since the kids barely redeem themselves at any point of the movie. That said, Ice Cube may well be the only good thing the movie has going for it. Suzanne is suddenly a drama-mama at the end, self-centred, self-righteous and spineless all at once. Yet perhaps none can rival the talking plastic toy (CGI of baseball legend Satchel Paige as a collector’s item figurine) in terms of annoyance, creepiness and redundancy – it’s very existence in the final cut simply goes to show the lack of intellectual commitment that has been accorded to this production.

With such a road movie, it’s nearly impossible to mess with its basic structure: the trio comes and goes and reaches its destination soon enough, but here, the coming and going is tedious and repulsive, the conclusion 90 minutes too late. “Are We There Yet?” has more or less made me terrified of children, children around cars, children with “blingage”, Satchel Paige and quite possibly all rhetorical questions. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen, but it sure had a good run at it.

Movie Rating: C-

Review by Angeline Chui

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