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May 13, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | May 13, 2006 |

I don’t have the intellectual capacity to dole out the appropriate level of written retribution that the hour and a half of cerebral atrophy Are We There Yet? warrants; there are some movies, unfortunately, that I just don’t have enough bile in me to adequately revile. Are We There Yet? is just such a movie — it is lazily scripted, trite, and insufferable, but most of all, it’s a waste of the talent and reputation that the post N.W.A. Ice Cube has built for himself as an actor. That the man who once penned a song entitled, “Fuck tha Police,” who at one time co-wrote and starred in the hip-hop reefer classic, Friday, would now stoop to a fist fight with a goddamn deer is just too much for me to stomach. How could the man who once courted controversy, who helped to pioneer Gangsta rap, who was even condemned by the F.B.I., sell out for an atrocious role that’s not even worthy of the meager talents of Tim Allen? Somewhere, Dr. Dre has to be shaking his head in wonder.

Brought to you by director Brian Levant — the intellectual muscle behind the cinematic heavyweights Snow Dogs and Jingle All the WayAre We There Yet? follows Nick Persons (Ice Cube), a Portland sports collectible store owner trying to get out of the “friend zone” and into the pants of Suzanne (Nia Long), a divorcee with two children. The hang up, of course, is that Nick intensely dislikes kids, which may be the only trace left of the old hip-hop Ice Cube, who once created a stir of controversy by writing a song about kicking his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach.

The two children, eight-year-old Kevin (Phillip Daniel Bolden) and 11-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen), are precisely the kind of children you want to hate, the embodiments of all that is unpleasant about a John Hughes preadolescent hellion, without any of the chubby-cheeked adorableness that ultimately wins you over. The children, evidently, hold out hope that their parents will eventually reunite, and focus all of their delusional hopes into sabotaging their mother’s relationships with men.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before all that messy conflict is resolved over a nice, long road trip, after Suzanne charges Nick with escorting her children to Vancouver to meet her on a business outing. The inevitable, unfortunately, is inescapable: A security snafu derails the flight, a train is missed, vomit is spewed, urine is spilled, the cherished SUV is destroyed many times over, and hugs are exchanged, all leading up to an unsurprising finale that I wouldn’t dare spoil for those of you not smart enough predict it.

Ice Cube, the teddy bearish grump from the Barbershop movies, supplies the requisite charisma, but it’s mostly for naught, as whatever charm he manages to radiate is buried beneath the racial stereotypes, hackneyed script, elderly flatulence, and crotch blows of Are We There Yet? Cube’s biggest asset as a character has always been his likable irritability, and his knack for flashing that warmhearted smile sparingly, at just the right time, has always managed to win over his audience. Here, unfortunately, he can’t seem to keep himself from grinning, overworking his smirk until it ultimately comes across more shit-eating than affectionate.

Besides a plotline that’s been traveled more times than Paris Hilton, and a wasted Jay Mohr character, there is plenty more to dislike about Are We There Yet?, but perhaps most detestable is the misuse of Satchel Paige, in the form of a bobble head doll — voiced by Tracy Morgan — that ogles breast and supplies the misguided voice of reason. As a rap star, Ice Cube may have been overtly misogynistic and homophobic, but he never disrespected his race, and to use a racial icon to encourage a booty call is not only unfunny, it’s criminally offensive. It’s one thing for Ice Cube to sully his own credibility as an actor by making a witless, inane family comedy, but there is no sense in bringing Satchel Paige along for the ride of insipidity.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Are We There Yet? / Dustin Rowles

Film | May 13, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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