Amidst the avalanche of big holiday releases and expanding Oscar bait, studios tend to treat January and early February as a cinematic trash can, dumping all the leftovers into a big heap just hoping we’ll all go digging for scraps. After two back to back clunkers this time last year, Ice Cube is back, this time taking an all too familiar formula and forming a family friendly film that won’t have you asking Are We There Yet? But rather, is it over yet?
The brother and sister team of Kevin (Philip Bolden) and Lindsay (Aleisha Allen) are extremely protective over who their Mother, Suzanne (Nia Long), dates. They even go so far as to play various pranks on some of their mother’s would be suitors in order to scare them away. Then along comes ex-baseball player turned Sports Collectible store owner Nick (Ice Cube), who seeks his guidance and wisdom from a dashboard Sachel Page bobble-head doll (voiced by Tracy Morgan), and who befriends Suzanne with the hopes of going all the way with the MILF. While Suzanne is in Vancouver on business, Kevin and Lindsay’s father is “too sick” to pick them up, so it is up to the reluctant, irritable, and not kid-friendly Nick to escort the devilish duo to Vancouver to celebrate New Years Eve. Can the conniving kiddies and the blinged-out sports nut coexist? Well, let’s say Nick finds out the highway doesn’t just lead to Canada, it also leads to hell.
Are We There Yet? blatantly rips off and poorly attempts to update all the great road trip comedies with reluctant travelers like Tommy Boy and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Fat guy and little guy stuck on the road with each other, comic genius! Phat guy and two little children stuck on the road with each other, sucks anus! Every single gag, every joke, every little thing in this movie that is supposed to be even remotely humorous, has been done four zillion times before it...and a lot better. The flick will have you rolling your eyes more that splitting your sides. The only dose of originality in the entire film is more of a creepy character flaw than a failed form of comic relief. I’m talking about the bobble head doll. I mean, it has its fair share of wisecracks, but no one can hear them except Nick. Um...I’m pretty sure that makes him schizophrenic. This of course makes him the perfect candidate to look after your kids.
The movie has train wreck written all over it; its multiple screenwriters only insinuate that it went through a bunch of re-writes until I’m guessing they gave up. Ice Cube produced it, which means it’s about on par with the mediocrity of the Barbershop and Friday franchises. Brian Levant - who has brought us such cinematic masterpieces like Jingle All the Way and Snow Dogs - is in the director’s chair. It’s a wonder this ever got greenlit.
Cast members Nia Long, Jay Mohr, and even Tracy Morgan are wasted. They are only here for a paycheck and it shows. The three of them are extremely talented individuals, and it is a shame they got caught up in this mess. As far as Ice Cube is concerned...honestly, besides a few random supporting gigs, what substantial impact has he had on Hollywood that keeps him around this long? He has never given a great performance or been in a great movie. Hell, he’s never had a truly big hit. So what’s the cinematic fascination with this N.W.A. member? I don’t get it. I am waiting to be impressed. Until that time, it is this critic’s opinion that Ice Cube...needs to melt.
There is absolutely no reason to see this movie. Avoid it entirely. Do not be compelled to bring your kids to this because “they might like it”, rent Plains, Trains, and Automobiles instead... introduce them to the wonderful world of John Candy. 2005 is not off to a good start; let’s hope the next few months just blow on by. January is Hollywood’s dumpster, and Are We There Yet? is a piece of garbage.