Plot: Nick (Ice Cube) lives the kind of life he always dreamed about, running a sports collectibles shop and free to pursue whatever interests him, so he has no intention of letting a woman tie him down. Of course, his outlook takes a drastic shift when he meets Suzanne (Nia Long), a beautiful and ambitious woman who captures his attention. He rethinks his entire plan and decides if he is ever going to settle down, this is the woman he wants to be with. But while Nick is willing to let go of most of his reservations, he has to reconsider when he discovers Suzanne has two kids, a couple of mean little brats, no less. He is so smitten however, that he agrees to make sure the kids catch a flight to Vancouver, to join Suzanne at an important function. Nick knows he is in over his head from the start, but when the group misses the flight and has to drive instead, he has no idea what chaos awaits down the road.
Entertainment Value: This Revolution Studios comedy was intended to be an Adam Sandler movie, but instead wound up as an Ice Cube vehicle, marking his first entry into family friendly cinema. The movie’s sense of humor has traces of Sandler’s style, but it seems like a lot of changes were made so that the material would better suit Ice Cube and his approach. The narrative feels familiar, with a smitten bachelor thrust into a situation with unruly kids, when of course, we know he doesn’t have the patience or tolerance to put up with the brats. Despite the potential romance at the core of the premise, this is not a romantic comedy in the least, as the focus is on Ice Cube and the kids, so it is more of a slapstick style humor. This is also designed with family audiences in mind, so the humor is broad and blends simple verbal jokes with pratfalls, so a mix of general wackiness in a safe, harmless package. Not the kind of movie that makes you think or breaks new ground, but in the realm of family entertainment, Are We There Yet? isn’t that bad and is better than some pictures I’ve seen. So if you appreciate the Revolution Studios style comedies or you’re a fan of Ice Cube’s work, this family oriented outing has a few more laughs than you might expect.
While Ice Cube had proven his comedic chops by this point, this was his first family friendly kind of material, so he had to mix up his approach and make much tamer content work in his style. I don’t think he handles the shift poorly, but he seems out of place here and really forces the material, so what basic humor is present is often stomped out by his approach. You can tell this premise was written with Sandler in mind, but Ice Cube steps in well enough to make it work at a basic level, even if he tries too hard and lessens the laughs. When he drops his usual over the top, anger driven persona, the role clicks into place and the humor kicks in, but sadly that doesn’t happen too often here. But for his first effort in the arena of family friendly comedies, I think he performs well. M.C. Gainey is fun to watch in a small, but important role that keeps popping out throughout the movie. The cast here also includes Nia Long, Tracy Morgan, Jay Mohr, and Henry Simmons.