Film

Film

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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.

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