Movie Preview: Are We There Yet?
By Philip Murphy

Some guys will do anything to hook up with an attractive woman. Take Nick (Ice Cube), who runs a sports memorabilia store in Portland, across the street from where Suzanne (Nia Long) works at a party planning company. Nick fancies himself a smooth operator with his own business, a brand new Lincoln Navigator, and plenty of football jerseys to wear plus lots of “bling- bling” (that’s gold necklaces with medallions, for the laymen). So when Suzanne gets stuck working a job up in Vancouver on New Year’s Eve, then discovers her ex is not willing to take care of the kids, as promised, Nick gallantly offers to bring the kids up to her in Vancouver.
The only problem is Nick doesn’t like kids, and 11-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and 7-year-old Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden) don’t think anyone other than their dad is good enough for their mom. So this promises to be a bumpy ride.

To begin with they miss both the plane and the train, and when Nick decides to drive the kids up himself, in his shiny new Navigator, they manage to help destroy that and put him through all sorts of trials and humiliations, such as: having an ax dropped on his crotch, being barfed on, getting thrown from a horse, and getting run off the road. But as you might expect, Nick manages to deliver the children intact and even learns to love them, despite the trials he has to endure. And, of course, the kids grow to love him, and their mom does too.

This is standard mainstream comedy fare, except for the fact that it stars Ice Cube in a role that was probably written with Steve Martin or Tim Allen in mind. The Cube (as he sometimes refers to himself these days) seems to be getting comfortable with his cuddly, bourgeois side, and does a serviceable job playing a beleaguered father figure.

The film works best when it is grounded in believable situations that spiral out of control, such as when the kids lock Nick out of his car while it’s running and he has to dive through his sunroof to regain control. But the movie has an unfortunate tendency to push beyond the realm of plausibility into the ridiculous, such as when Nick gets into a fistfight with a deer, making it seem forced and desperate for laughs. Still, kids 10 and under will probably enjoy it, but parents may find it pretty formulaic.

Now on DVD and video, the movie originally opened Jan. 28, 2005, and is rated PG for “language and rude humor.”

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Philip Murphy covers family-oriented films for United Parenting Publications.