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Far be it from me to knock a movie that pivots on the notion that hell is other people’s children, but—despite a promising early analogy between kids and cockroaches (” ‘cept you can’t squish ’em!”)—Brian Levant’s Are We There Yet? lacks the courage of its grape-juice-, mud-, and vomit-spattered convictions. Ice Cube (who’s also one of the film’s producers) stars as Nick Persons, a thirtysomething man-child who wants desperately to get with pulchritudinous divorcée Suzanne (Nia Long). The problem is that she has a protective young daughter (Aleisha Allen) and son (Philip Bolden) with Parent Trap-esque ideas of their own. The movie contrives to send Nick and the belligerent tykes on a road trip from Oregon to Canada, where they inevitably bond after a series of physics-defying mishaps. Levant and his screenwriting posse attempt to wring maximum hilarity from this setup, but it’s just too schizoid: On one hand the film wants to impart cloying life lessons about adult responsibility, while on the other it wants us to bust a gut over the kids’ penchant for violent cruelty and Nick’s hair-raising acts of child endangerment. (Granted, the latter had me chuckling.) Neither approach jells, and the goodwill established by the cuddly Cube and demi-diva Allen—to say nothing of Nichelle Nichols in a much too brief bit part as the brats’ earthy babysitter—is squandered long before Are We There Yet? coasts to its foregone happy ending.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 11, 2005

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