Director Steve Carr should know better. After being called on to do the sequel for Are We There Yet? – a moderately successful one-gimmick comedy starring Ice Cube – he should have realized that pulling it off would be next to impossible and quit the job. The only reason I say that is because Carr hasn’t the skill to helm a film without an actor that is accomplished enough in the comedic field to help him out. Ice Cube is not that actor, and Are We Done Yet? is Carr’s worst film because of it. In almost all of his previous directorial efforts, he has had actors on hand that could hold the audience’s attention even if what was around them about as bad as it gets. He had Eddie Murphy in Dr. Dolittle 2 and Daddy Day Care, as well as Martin Lawrence in Rebound. Those two are comedic geniuses, while Ice Cube is… well he’s Ice Cube.
Honestly, I was pulling for Ice while he was still doing the Friday series which was relatively funny, and you can’t say that the first Barbershop was not enjoyable. But then came Friday After Next which was not funny and recycled everything that was good about the first two films. His semi-serious role in Torque was another mistake, as was his cliche character in Are We There Yet?, but the final nail in the coffin for me was xXx: State of the Unoin. Not only was the film bad because it was yet again, recycling previously successful material, but also because of the person playing the lead role – an uncharismatic, unlikeable, and sorry to say – untalented Ice Cube.
And he is undeniably back in that dreadful form in yet another needless sequel. In it he plays the same old disgruntled now-husband and father who wants to keep his family together and happy, even though nothing is going his way. In this case the house that his family moves into is a lemon, and an old one at that. It starts to fall apart, so Cube decides to call a contractor (John C. McGinley who, instead of fixing the house, makes things even worse. Throughout the film, Nick (Cube) has to endure the worst things you can imagine – falling through the weak second floor, getting struck by lightning, falling off the roof, etc., and it gets down-right annoying and even boring until the physical humor loses all its edge and the film is left to rely on the jokes of that the characters crack throughout dialogue scenes.
The quality of the funny lines is as expected – bad. The extremely few chuckles that are to be had, come during the interactions between McGinley and Cube, which are only funny because McGinley’s character is absolutely absurd, both in his actions, and his words. The other attempts at making something funny out of nothing, cause Steve Carr and screenwriter Hank Nelken to resort to the biggest cliches in cinema history. Some of these lines are so embarrassingly cliched that I could not believe the actors agreed to utter them. There isn’t one line in the whole film that is memorable for a good reason. The only reason “I don’t know karate, but I know Ka-razy” sticks in my mind is because of the feeling of total embarrassment for the character I felt after it happened. It was one of those moments when I slouched in my seat so I could dodge the imminent negative, to say the least, reaction from the audience. After about five such moments in the first twenty minutes of running time, I knew it was going to be a long night.
But even if there are lines as dreadful as that one in a film, they can be funny (stupid funny) if delivered the right way. None of the actors involved in this film are capable of that. Ice Cube is one-note which is shocking considering everything that his character is put through. Nia Long, who plays his wife, is boring and is never in command, but the screenplay calls for that later on during some of the scenes of conflict between her and Cube. And as far as John C. McGinley is considered, he seems to rely on his voice too much and endlessly and unsuccessfully wants to make his character cool. His best role in recent years has unsurprisingly been the emotional husband in Identity – a role that should have made him a serious actor, but with roles like this one and the elongated cameo in Wild Hogs, that ship has definitely sailed.
As far as the film’s technical attributes are considered, they are relatively non-existent. A rabid raccoon who expectedly attacks Nick, is a basic transformation from a real one to a puppet, but the transformation isn’t flawless by far. Same goes for the quick-edit lightning strike the expected falling through the floor. The cinematography by Jack Green (who also did a terrible job in Serenity) is a definite meh, and so is the hack-saw editing which is becoming an all too common occurrence in family films these days. And as far as the score is considered, Andrew Lloyd Webber could have created one with less cliche movements than what Teddy Castellucci offers up.
Overall this film is abysmal on all fronts. The few forced smiles it salvages from its audience seem like simple accidents, and the mean-spirited way it approaches parenting, is just one of the many things that signal a need of a second draft for this screenplay. Here’s hoping a third sequel isn’t made, but you never know in an era when a Scary Movie 5 is in the works.