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Are We There Yet?

Rated PG, 92 min. Directed by Brian Levant. Voice by Tracy Morgan. Starring Ice Cube, Nia Long, Jay Mohr, Aleisha Allen, Philip Daniel Bolden, M.C. Gainey, Henry Simmons, Nichelle Nichols.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 21, 2005

Have we such short memories that we have already forgotten last year's feeble Johnson Family Vacation? Or did we like it so much that we're now crying out for more African-American family road-trip movies? Whatever the case, Are we There Yet? has landed here now, and despite bearing a title that practically cries out for disrespect from antsy filmgoers, the new Ice Cube picture (he stars as well as co-produces) is not as bad as it easily could have been and at least a small notch better than Johnson Family Vacation. In Are We There Yet? Cube plays a player, the unencumbered Nick who scorns "breeders" and loves only his brand new Lincoln Navigator. Then he spots Suzanne (Long), who works across the street from him in Portland, Oreg. However, her two children, Lindsey (Allen) and Kevin (Bolden), are a decided romantic setback, so Nick chooses to remain in what he calls the "friend zone." Eventually, he changes his tune and plans to butter up the kids as a means of getting to the mom. Win over the kids, win the mom. Thus, when Suzanne has to travel to Vancouver on business and her ex reneges on taking the children for the weekend, Nick (and his Navigator) jump into the fray and he elects to drive the kids up to Canada himself. What he doesn’t know is that the children have made a habit of scaring off all their mom’s suitors in the childish hope that their parents will get back together. Of course, the car is in shreds before the end of the trip, but along the way everyone has nevertheless learned to love one another. Cube manifests his amiable side in this movie and shows he can headline a family picture. The children are less believable in roles that require that they range from shrewish hellions to sensitive little tykes. Star Trek’s Nichols makes a guest appearance as a frump channeling Eartha Kitt. And the less said about the Satchel Paige bobblehead on Nick’s dashboard the better. (Its crude commentary is voiced by Morgan.) The humor and escapades are occasionally well-focused (refusal to board a plane for carrying a corkscrew) but more often rude and physically abusive. (One kidnapping joke definitely goes too far for comfort.) Are We there Yet? is better off left by the side of the road.
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