out of Five
Running time: 95
Average comedy that doesn’t really exploit its decent premise. Not as funny as it should have been.
Are We There Yet? is one of those films that, despite being kind of rubbish, still manages to spend a week at the number one spot in the US box office charts, allowing the posters to scream, “THE NUMBER ONE FILM IN AMERICA!” However, the fact that director Brian Levant was also responsible for films such as Problem Child, Jingle All The Way and both Flintstones movies should give you a clearer idea of its quality.
Kids Attempt To Sabotage Potential Romance
Ice Cube stars as Nick, a smooth operator who runs a sports memorabilia store. Smitten by Suzanne (Nia Long), an attractive woman who works across the street, Nick is put off when he discovers she has two kids - seven year old Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden) and 11 year old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen).
However, when Nick realises that he’ll have to bond with the kids if he ever wants to get out of the dreaded ‘Friend Zone’, he agrees to drive them from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, in order to reunite them with their mother, who’s stuck on a business trip on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, the kids don’t think Nick is good enough for their mum and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make things difficult for him.
Ice Cube makes a likeable lead, something that probably accounted for the film’s strong opening weekend, Stateside. The problem is that, if anything, he’s TOO likeable - he’s never allowed to really get angry with the kids, which severely hampers the comic potential of the premise. As a result, the funniest scene (Cube driving with the kids strapped to the bonnet, like deer) turns out to be a fantasy sequence.
Film Quickly Runs Out Of Ideas
As for the kids, Aleisha Allen turns in a good performance, but Philip
Daniel Bolden isn’t much of an actor and seems to be trying too hard. He has an interesting-looking face, but his incessant grinning and gurning suggests that we could have another Cuba Gooding Jnr on our hands if we’re not careful. It’s also a shame that Jay Mohr (as Nick’s best friend) isn’t given more to do, as he’s the funniest thing in the film.
However, given that she’s shown no musical inclination up to this point, the scene feels false. A similar scene involves Ice Cube riding a horse - it’s true that the sight of Cube riding a horse is inherently amusing, but the scene isn’t played for laughs and he’s actually rather good at it, although, again, no horsemanship has been suggested up to that point.
In short, though the film has its moments, Are We There Yet? is liable to exhaust your patience well before its mercifully short running time is up and you’re better off waiting for the video.