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Are We Done Yet? is a dangerous film. Not just because it’s awful (and it is godawful), and not just because it makes you hate everyone in it (even John C. McGinley). It’s dangerous because it’s the kind of movie that makes you hate the people who like it too, it’s the kind of film that if you see it in someone’s DVD collection you won’t be able to help but judge them, and find them incredibly wanting as a human being. There were a few people laughing during my screening of Are We Done Yet?, and if I ever meet any of them in a dark alley I may just bludgeon them to death with a copy of The Lookout on DVD. I am of course, exaggerating. I’ll probably use Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. The Lookout won’t be out on DVD for months.
The film is a sequel to the 2005 movie Are We There Yet?, and this one’s title seems as if it were ripped from the closing sentence of once of the thousands of bad reviews it is guaranteed to receive. Except Are We Done Yet? isn’t just a sequel, it’s also a remake. They’ve plucked the actors out of Are We There Yet? and plopped them down with a script based off a 1948 Cary Grant movie called Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Grant’s movie is now ruined forever. It’s like a crappy filmmaking double whammy. As if it isn’t bad enough that they’re doing a sequel to a bad movie, they had to rip off some other movie to do it.
In the original movie Ice Cube starred as a boyfriend saddled with his girl’s kids on a cross country road trip. Flash forward a few months and in this one they’re now married, which means he’s stuck with his girl’s kids 24/7. This time though, the film’s not so much about them torturing him as it is about the ways Cube can torture himself. He moves the family to the country, and gets swindled into buying a lemon of a house from a realtor played by ‘Scrubs’ star John C. McGinley. Are We Done Yet? then turns into a sort of lame version of The Money Pit. A couple of things break, and Cube hires an army of contractors to rip the entire structure apart while he sits around on his hands bitching and basically doing nothing.
The film is full of stock, unfunny bits which usually boil down to Ice Cube falling down, or falling off of something. Of course there’s the obligatory confrontation with an angry animal that seems to pop up in all of these movies, but even that boils down to Cube falling down. It’s just a completely unfunny, unlikable film with poorly developed characters and a shaky, half-thought out scaffolding of a script. It’s the kind of movie where people behave the way they do just because that’s what someone wrote down, not because it adds anything to the story or has any relation to reality. For instance when their power goes out and Ice Cube needs to fax an important document to his publisher, rather than getting in his car and driving to a Kinko’s, he spends a week sitting on his front porch scowling at the money this is costing him. The whole movie is structured that way, with narrative dead ends and incomprehensible behavior on the part of its characters.
The bigger tragedy here is that John C. McGinley is involved. I love McGinley, he’s brilliant on ‘Scrubs’ and before that he killed as one of the Michael Bolton loving Bobs in Office Space. McGinley is a genuinely talented, legitimately funny guy and he’s been given a fairly large role in the movie as sort of Ice Cube’s nemesis and sidekick. And he tries, he really does. He’s responsible for the only real laugh in the film, a sight gag in which he power walks in short shorts to deliver a baby, his pasty white upper thighs pumping and gleaming in the sunlight. But otherwise he’s wasted. His character is simply written all wrong. He’s supposed to be likable and sympathetic, but the long and short of it is that he’s kind of a jerk who rips Ice Cube off, and at the end of the film we’re told that’s alright because years ago his wife died. If you’re a widower, apparently it’s alright for you to commit fraud.
Are We Done Yet? has taken a tired out, worn out comedy premise and squeezed it into dust. This is the kind of movie that destroys careers, and if cuddly, huggable rapper turned actor Ice Cube hopes to survive in the aftermath he’d better sign up to be in something better before this stinker hits theaters. The movie tries to play broad, but ends up over-inflating and exploding in a big, bloated mess of lifeless storytelling, bad jokes, and characters no one, even fans of the first one, will be able to care about. Are We Done Yet? is a soulless cinematic travesty and it leaves only loathing in its wake.