Film Preview: Are We There Yet?

Family road trips offer a chance to get away and spend quality time together. When the kids aren’t watching Shrek 2 on the DVD player or swimming around Bikini Bottom with SpongeBob SquarePants on their GameBoy®Advance, there’s a universal mantra that all children chant while riding in cars: Are we there yet? “No, honey, not yet,” is the response made several times an hour.

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But what happens when a ladies’ man and two naughty kids hit the road on a 300-mile trip from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver, British Columbia? Buckle up for one zany ride.

lass=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">In the comic adventure Are We There Yet?, smooth bachelor Nick (Ice Cube) is set on wooing divorcee Suzanne (Nia Long) at any cost. However, super-cool Nick gets rattled, watching his life completely unravel at the hands of Suzanne’s two manipulative kids.

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Prepare for a one-way trip of nonstop laughs with ever-conspiring 11-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and her rambunctious 7-year-old brother, Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden). In the dastardly duo’s opinion, no man is good enough for their mom, especially Nick, who’s using the kids as bait. The siblings see right through Nick’s scheme and plot a course of zany pranks and badgering that turn Nick’s immaculate Lincoln Navigator into junk on wheels.

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With Snow Dogs director Brian Levant at the helm, expect madcap mischief led by Ice Cube. As Nick, Cube attempts to maintain his sanity by having imaginary conversations with his dashboard bobble-head buddy, cleverly portrayed through the voice of former Saturday Night Live comic Tracy Morgan. In the first family adventure for Cube, a married father of four, playing Nick gave the actor a chance to exercise his witty acting chops.

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“I really liked this script and wanted the film to be hilarious. My favorite family film is Home Alone, and I saw this film as my opportunity to bring that same kind of humor,” explains Cube. With his kids ranging in age from 4 to 17, the rapper-turned-actor gets plenty of parenting practice at home.

“I never forget what it’s like being a kid. I always try to gauge and make sure that I’m talking and measuring off each of my kids at their level,” Cube says. He says kids often face unfair expectations by those who forget that “kids will be kids.”

Playing the role of a single mom is no stretch for veteran actress Nia Long. She and her 4-year-old son Massai are bi-coastal residents, since Long took on the role of good cop Sasha Monroe on NBC’s crime drama, Third Watch. Long has since earned an NAACP Image Award for that role.

Suzanne’s character, according to Long, reflects real-life single parenting separation heartache and the “drama” most commonly associated with divorced couples.

“I totally understand how my character Suzanne feels. It’s really hard being away from my son for long periods of time,” says Long. When filming Alfie with Jude Law, the single mom didn’t see her son for nearly two months.

A former stay-at-home mom following the birth of Massai, Long admits to being very reflective and cautious of the roles she accepts since returning to work. “I know when to trust my instincts and have faith in the decisions about the roles that I take,” explains Long, who admits it’s hard finding family films to make that her son can watch. The busy single mom recalls being wowed as a child watching the Broadway musical, The Wiz. Long says she enjoys taking her son to see family films and theatrical productions that leave him giggling with delight.

Expect plenty of laughs as the two precocious kids, Lindsey and Kevin, take Nick on the ride of his life. Watching Nick fall apart and fall in love with two naughty children is worth shelling out a few bucks. Opening Jan. 21, this feature is an edgy family adventure. It is rated PG for “language and rude humor.”