Slapstick Sequel Actually an Improvement on the Original Formula
Are We Done Yet?
Rated PG for sexual innuendo and mild epithets.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Film Review by Kam Williams
Fair (1.5 stars)
Are We There Yet? (2005) was less a road comedy than a shameless, ninety-minute car commercial. Fortunately, the sequel doesn't revolve around an automobile. In fact, nothing about this movie resembles the first, except for the presence of the same four principals in the cast.
Ice Cube is back as Nick Persons, and he’s now married to Nia Long’s character, Suzanne, who is pregnant and expecting twins. He’s also adopted her two kids, Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden), the two misbehaving little monsters who’d previously made his life miserable.
This time, though, Suzanne and the children are given little to do besides dropping their jaws in wide-eyed reaction shots. For this flick features Nick’s frustrations with their new country home and his strained relationship with Chuck (John C. McGinley), the slippery realtor who talked him into buying the fixer-upper secretly in need of wholesale renovations.
The reason the storyline has been totally overhauled is because it is actually a remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), a romp starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas and Louise Beavers. And while Ice Cube’s acting has certainly improved with age, it is unfair to expect the affable gangsta’ rapper to measure up favorably to the charismatic Grant in terms of charm and screen chemistry.
That being said, this picture is stolen by Mr. McGinley, a perennial second banana who makes the most of an opportunity to upstage his relatively-wooden co-stars. He plays a jack-of-all-trades who, soon after selling the property to the Persons, returns not only as a contractor, but as the city inspector, a Lamaze counselor, an herbalist, a baby whisperer and a midwife.
It comes off looking as though director Steve Carr (Next Friday) decided to employ McGinley in a variety of roles either to save his studio some money or because he was well aware of the rubber-faced funnyman ability to make people laugh. Regardless, it proves to be a smart move, since the insufferable Chuck is the most entertaining aspect of the production.
As the film unfolds, we get a hint that these black folks might have a hard time adjusting to nature after living in the inner-city when Lindsey complains to her parents, ’I can't believe you're making us move to the country. This is child abuse of the worst kind.’ However, Nick is the only one who ends up overwhelmed by the relocation.
He is never allowed a peaceful moment, being disturbed by the revengeful raccoon who calls him ’Sucker’ and by equally-rude encounters with deer, sturgeon and a hawk. Still, it’s Chuck who most infuriates Nick, at least until he belatedly learns of the tragic loss which turned the once adoring husband into a crooked widower.
Stale and predictable, Are We Done Yet? is likely to be found hilarious only by tykes being exposed to plumber butt sight gags, fart jokes, anthropomorphic animal fare and construction site slapstick for the very first time. Otherwise, yeah, we're done.
Ice Cube Interview
Nia Long Interview