"Are We There Yet?" is yet another movie aimed at kids that makes the common mistake of assuming that all children are idiots. Devoid of imagination and sincerity, the movie never passes up an opportunity to insult viewers of all ages.Name an annoying cliché, and it's here. It's almost as if screenwriters Steven Gary Banks, Claudia Grazioso, J. David Stem David N. Weiss and director Brian Levant (the "genius" behind both Flintstones movies) rigorously followed a checklist to ensure they didn't miss anything: "Crotch kick?" "Check." "Exploding vehicle?" "Check." "Urine joke?" "Check." "Vomit joke?" "Check."
In the meantime, story, character and viewers suffer.
Unlike some rappers who try to rock the camera the way they do a microphone, "Are We There Yet?" star Ice Cube can be pretty good actor. His best moments come in flicks like "Three Kings" or "Barbershop" when he's playing an average Joe.
As a producer, however, Ice Cube is often his own worst enemy. It gets old watching him try to play up his gangsta rep, even in a film that could have offered him a chance to poke fun at it.
In this outing, he plays Nick Persons, a former baseball player who now runs a successful sports collectable shop in Oregon. Despite being a bit of an overgrown child, Nick hates tots with a passion.
Of course, Nick soon discovers that he can't avoid youngsters for long. He falls for a pretty divorcee named Suzanne (Nia Long), who has two brats named Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden). The two intently wait for their father to return to the marriage and attack "Home Alone"-style any potential suitor for their mom.
When a business trip calls Suzanne away from home, Nick abruptly has to take the youngsters to meet her in Vancouver (Yes, it's a nice town, but one begins to feel the destination has more to do with saving shooting expenses).
You can pretty much guess what will go wrong from here, and getting to the inevitable isn't much fun because the kids are so obnoxious and the actors who play them are so wooden. When Levant and the screenwriters attempt to humanize the characters, it feels false because no one on camera has the chops to make it convincing.
To add to the irritation factor, Nick gets advice from his Satchel Paige bobble-head (voice by John Witherspoon). The depiction of the baseball great is so demeaning that his heirs should consider suing. Innocent audiences are also subjected to a soulless rendition of Otis Redding's respect (where's Aretha Franklin when we need her?) and an animatronic dear that's as unconvincing as the child actors.With better kids movies like "The Incredibles" still in theaters, "Are We There Yet?" is an excellent excuse to stay at home.