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"Are We There Yet?"

Directed by Brian Levant.
Written by Steven Gary Banks, Claudia Grazioso, J. David Stem and David N. Weiss.
Starring Ice Cube, Aleisha Allen, Philip Daniel Boden and Nia Long.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  3/8/05


Look, Longer, times are slow in the spring.  I don't have a lot to go on here; I mean, I've got to bite it and see "Be Cool" and "The Pacifier" eventually, so for now, we'll keep it to family fare until the big guns start rolling in by May.

"Are We There Yet?" actually came out over a month ago.  It's the story of sports collectibles playboy Nick Persons (Ice Cube), a man with a new Lincoln Navigator in tow and the hots for a single mom (Nia Long) that has two kids hell-bent on making sure their mom never remarries:  Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Daniel Boden), who both think their mom should wait up for their biological father, who hasn't been around much of late.  When the mom comes to trust Nick as a friend, she has to go on a business trip to Vancouver, and she entrusts Nick to get her children to meet with her, after planes and trains backfire, it's up to the Navigator to make the road trip with the world's most dangerous kids in the back seat.

There were a couple of very important things that happened during my recent matinee showing:

-->For the first time in my entire life, I went alone into a movie theater and was the only person in that theater from start to finish.  The first time!  This almost became a distraction, as I waited patiently for someone to show up and blow it for me...but, it never happened.  I picked the wrong day to show up without a date!  I did see "Danny Deckchair" in a theater with just people I came with, and I also saw "Walking Tall" in a theater alone...but, not until the other four people in the theater walked out because it was such a piece of shit.

-->I came to the realization that no actor in the history of film has gone from one spectrum to the other like Ice Cube.  No one.  EVER.  We're talking about a man that, in his music and in his public appearances, regularly denounced women and everything they stand for.  A hardcore rapper.  Hardcore career with NWA; hardcore solo career.  Regularly dissed whites, gays and women in his lyrics.  Only made movies about thug life, violence and reverse racism.  Then, something happened.  I still can't figure out what exactly happened, but he went from doing R-rated smackdowns like "Trespass" and "Dangerous Ground" (don't forget about "Boyz N the Hood"), then made a couple of across-the-board great films in "Friday" and "Three Kings", then did a couple more what-the-fucks, like "All About the Benjamins" and "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars" before setting off on what seems to be a new chapter in his life--PG-13 comedies (the "Barbershop" series), a three-picture deal with DISNEY, and now, his first true big-budget leading role, taking over for Vin Diesel in the "xXx" sequel due out in April.  I mean, seriously, who the fuck is Ice Cube?  I just have this feeling that in three or four years, he'll be playing a preacher or a member of the Peace Corps or something ridiculous like that.  Strangely, I don't think he's even sold out...he just seems to be genuinely interested in doing something completely different.

Now, as to "Are We There Yet?", it's a film that is almost sickening to watch, from a plot standpoint--you watch Nick go about the business of trying to impress the mom, in order to win her heart...and the kids are at their annoying best when they try everything to defy Nick's instructions.  Allen and Boden are great as the kids, but Long and Cube aren't as good as the lovers-to-be; this is as bad as I have seen Long in her work, but of course, she is ridiculously hot, so she's allowed to take a film off, I guess.  She just seemed to say everything like she was standing in a cloud, talking down to Earth's minions; Cube as a romantic lead can be tough to buy given his past, so I had that in the back of my head as he was putting on the moves.  Even Jay Mohr is reduced to garbage in "Are We There Yet?"; he doesn't say a single funny thing in the film.

But, as the road trip rolls along, the movie does score some good laughs at the expense of Cube's physical comedy and the deteriorating state of the Navigator's hull.  And, it's a decent ride, with nice outdoor scenery (the movie is set in the Pacific Northwest, but I'm not sure if it was shot there) and a quick-but-unhurried pace.  I won't need to see it again, but for $6, you can rest assured that "Are We There Yet?" will entertain right at the midpoint.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09