April 5, 2007

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Are We Done Yet? (PG)
Ice Cube makes us feel very very sad for him in the humor-free sequel to Are We There Yet? the whinyly titled Are We Done Yet?, a movie based loosely — very very loosely — on the 1948 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

That movie starred Cary Grant as the hapless city man turned country dad, the wonderfully dry Myrna Loy as his wife and Melvin Douglas as his suave buttinsky best friend. The movie is light but charming.

Are We Done Yet? is just as light in subject matter (some stuff about stepfamilies is mere red herring for the substance-less story) but is charm-free. After enduring a car trip filled with puke and animal mishaps with irritating children Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden) in Are We There Yet?, Nick (Ice Cube) has nonetheless married their mother Suzanne (Nia Long). He adores-ish his new family but has a hard time squeezing the wife and kids (plus a baby on the way) into his Chicago apartment. Nick has started a new magazine and is looking for some space to work in peace and quiet. He and the Mrs. decide to head out to the country to look for the perfect home, which they find, naturally, looking suspiciously spacious and bucolic. Once they buy, with help from realtor/contractor/local home inspector/midwife Chuck (John G. McGinley), the house decides to remake The Money Pit and falls apart, bit by expensive bit. With “help” from Chuck, Nick must work to keep his house and his family together.

Forget Boyz in the Hood — Are We Done Yet? makes Barbershop 2 look like an edgy urban comedy. Ice Cube is better than this (Three Kings, for example). Is the family comedy market so lucrative that it keeps him coming back, despite the damage to his acting (never mind his musical) street cred? I’m still convinced that this whole Are We series must be some elaborate audition for a sitcom. (And I won’t even get into the embarrassing performance by Scrubs’ McGinley.) Please, Mr. Cube, please tell me you’ve got a reason. Please tell me you don’t actually think these movies are good.

Are We Done Yet? has plenty of wacky-raccoon, Ice-Cube-getting-smacked-on-the-head pratfalls and the kids in the audience seemed to find this America’s Funniest Former Rapper Home Videos stuff funny. Me? I just found it moving very very slowly. D

Rated PG for some innuendos and brief language. Directed by Steve Carr and written by Hank Nelken from characters by Steven Gary Banks and Claudia Grazioso and based on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, Are We Done Yet? doesn’t answer that question for an hour and a half and is distributed in wide release by Sony Pictures.