Nick Persons (Ice Cube) is a swinging bachelor that lives in Portland, Oregon. He runs a successful and highly profitable sports hobby shop. One day Nick sees a beautiful woman that he almost immediately falls for. Her name is Suzanne Kingston (Nia Long) and she has all the characteristics of a mate that Nick has been looking for. However, Nick soon learns that Suzanne is divorced and has two children. Nick is terrified of children, but he likes Suzanne and is determined to make their relationship work. The kids, daughter Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden), still desperately want their parents to get back together and have done everything in their power to prevent their mom from having a successful relationship with anyone else. Even though Nick is nicer and more loveable than some of the other prospects, he is NOT an exception to the kids' dislike and they use their full measure of ingenuity to get rid of him. But it doesn't work because Nick has fallen for Suzanne and vice versa. Then Suzanne is forced to stay in Vancouver for New Years and asks Nick to bring her the kids so they can be together for the holiday. The journey becomes a test for the relationship between Nick and Suzanne as well as the turning point between Nick and Lindsey and Kevin.
Other than being set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, ARE WE THERE YET? is a highly derivative film and doesn't really offer anything new to the family road trip subgenre. There are scenes in the movie that are slightly altered, but have been used before in such films as NATIONAL LAMPOON'S FAMILY VACATION, HOME ALONE, and TOMMY BOY. Also, it takes awhile for the audience to feel empathetic towards Lindsey and Kevin and the abuse they pour on Nick. For half of the movie, the children seem completely selfish, uncaring, and downright cruel.
Still, even with a fairly weak and derivative script and a couple of self-centered kids, ARE WE THERE YET? works as a family movie. The movie only has some comical violence, hardly any foul language, and contains an important message about the importance of family, sticking together, and the power of unconditional love. It may not be a great movie, but ARE WE THERE YET? is a decent one that children and their parents can safely enjoy watching together.
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Ice Cube has turned his frown upside down with the family-friendly screwball road movieAre We There Yet?We know the actor/rapper can use his trademark scowl to be funny (theFridayandBarbershopseries), or to be mean (Boyz in the Hood)--but can he use it to melt kids' hearts? That's the questionAre We There Yet?answers with a resounding yes for youngsters in the audience (which will be the lions' share), but it'll probably be an emphatic shrug for the grownups. The contrived plot has Cube playing a wannabe-player (as in ladies' man) and ex-player (as in washed-up minor league baseball star) who now owns a sports memorabilia business. His partner, played by Jay Mohr is just a throwaway, as is the talented Nia Long, the single mom that Cube sets his blinged-out sights on. To try to get in her good graces, he offers to transport her two bratty kids in his pride-and-joy Lincoln Navigator for a joy ride to a distant city where she's attending an emergency business meeting so they can have a New Year's Eve celebration together. This kiddies version ofRoad TripandPlanes, Trains and Automobileshas its cute moments, but plenty more gross-out moments which will please the kids no end, especially as the Navigator gets more and more trashed. Suffice it to say they all learn about each others' good sides and hearts are suitably melted all around--until after the credits roll, then you'll probably forget about the whole thing.--Ted Fry