Are We There Yet?

It is getting really old writing about how studios pass junk onto audiences as family fare. Are We There Yet? falls squarely into this category, yet surprisingly is bereft of any flatulence humor. Oh wait, never mind. Instead, director Brian Levant (who also helmed such gems as Snow Dogs and Viva Rock Vegas) gives audiences two little kids from hell. The premise of the film is that these two kids, Lindsey (Aleisha Allen, School of Rock, The Best Man) and her brother Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden, Johnson Family Vacation, Woman Thou Art Loosed) botch all attempts their mom makes at dating because they believe she will get back together with their dad. Sounds cute, but the execution is horrible.

There is a line between comedy and everything else, and Levant and screenwriters (get ready) Steven Gary Banks (Slugger), Claudia Grazioso (Bring It On Again), and J. David Stem and David Weiss (Shrek 2, Clockstoppers) go way overboard. The kids are demonic imps loosed from the bowels of hell. Their antics to keep their mom single are not funny, they are pretty dangerous and potentially lethal. It may be marginally funny watching them prevent a suitor from coming to the door by throwing various objects at him, but when it gets to the point where it looks like they can hurt people, Are We There Yet? crosses the line between funny and tasteless. How is this a family film if these two scheming brats seem out to kill Ice Cube (Barbershop 2, Torque) at every possible moment? If this were slapstick humor it would be one thing, but Levant ignores this completely, going for cheap laughs. A tacked-on warm and fuzzy ending does not make things better.

This may be the film where Ice Cube sells out. This is his first foray into 'family' films, and it's pretty horrible. He is actually a surprisingly good actor (see Three Kings) but usually stays in action or comedies. He plays Nick Persons, a sports memorabilia store owner who falls for Suzanne Kingston (Nia Long, Alfie, Baadasssss!). He wants to do everything he can to impress her, including volunteering to fly with Lindsey and Kevin up to Vancouver to meet Suzanne for New Year's. Here's the catch - he hates kids. Lindsey and Kevin immediately target him as the enemy, and cause him to miss both a flight and a train reservation, forcing Nick to drive them up from Oregon in his brand new souped up Navigator. The kids proceed to do everything they can to destroy the car and ruin Nick's life.

As Nick, Ice Cube is pretty much on autopilot. He reacts to all of the moronic things these kids do, yet never seems to do anything about it. All the while, his brand new car gets totaled. It just doesn't seem realistic. Are We There Yet? seems like nothing more than a vehicle to see Ice Cube get hit in the crotch. It's almost dumbfounding to think of how the writers thought this would be family fun. Parents will probably gasp at the antics of Lindsey and Kevin, since their kids will think its funny and probably attempt to copy them. For everybody else, this is a boring ride that seems even longer than it is.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated PG for language and rude humor.

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