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Are We There Yet? (2005)

24 hours. 350 miles. His girlfriends kids. What could possibly go wrong?

Directed by:

Brian Levant

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Once, Ice Cube was the slightly-chubby hardman of rap. Nowadays, he’s rapidly turning into the squishy family-friendly everyone’s-favourite-uncle type – and this bizarre transformation steps into overdrive with his acceptance of the lead role in tawdry kiddies’ road romp ‘Are We There Yet?’.

The star of Barbershop and that ‘You Can Do It (If You B&Q It)’ song plays nice Nick Parsons, a bloke so eager to impress the woman he fancies (Nia Long) that he volunteers to take her two sprogs (Aleisha Allen and Philip Bolden) to Vancouver to meet up with her at a New Year’s Eve bash. Sounds like an easy enough gig, right? Unfortunately not if you bear in mind the fact that a) he hates kids and b) these particular kids are clearly not the offspring of that pretty lady at all, but rather the spawn of the Devil.

So buckle your seat-belt and get your sick-bag at the ready for an hour-and-a-half of watching a man desperately try to maintain his patience as these two little brats do everything and anything in their power to make the entire journey an all-out misery. The trouble is, you’ll find yourself feeling so sorry for Nick that the whole thing just becomes infuriating, and there’s every chance you’ll end up rooting for him to abandon the pair of them at a Little Chef and head for home.

Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad if it actually included some laughs along the way – but there’s no chance of that with this appalling screenplay. Cube really does put his back into it (perhaps he’s been listening too hard to his own lyrics), and it reaches the point where it becomes painful to see him trying so desperately hard to squeeze laughs out of predicaments and scenarios that are just plain unfunny. Top of the cringe-o-meter for me, though, was the bit where the little girl – in a scene completely unrelated to the narrative, mind – climbs up onto a previously unseen stage and belts out Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ in its entirety. At that point I just became completely lost. Is this meant to be a movie, or a children’s episode of ‘American Idol’?

‘Are We There Yet?’ appears to be heavily influenced by the work of John Hughes: there’s shades of ‘Uncle Buck’ in Nick’s efforts to win over the young ‘uns, much of the road trip borrows huge chunks out of Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and look out for an opening sequence that could easily have been lifted straight out of Home Alone. But re-visit any of those three films on DVD and you’ll have an infinitely better time than you will watching this one. You see, ‘Are We There Yet’ might get the Hughes formula right, but it sorely lacks the charm, feeling and above all good humour that made each of those movies a success.

It's Got: Some cracking old school convoy-style trucker talk, ably provided by M.C. Gainey.

It Needs: Smokeys on its tail.

Alternatives:

Johnson Family Vacation, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck

Summary

This is one family road trip that’ll make you wish you’d stayed at home.

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