"Are We There Yet?" was a 2005 feature starring Ice Cube as an average guy who agrees to transport the horribly obnoxious two children of the woman that he's fallen for from Seattle to Vancouver. The movie didn't work, not only because it wasn't very funny, but because the two children were such brats that the movie became the equivalent of sitting in a car with two badly misbehaving children for the majority of 90 minutes.
So, imagine my surprise when I'm confronted with the sequel, "Are We Done Yet?", and actually find myself kind of enjoying it. This is definitely a problematic movie in many ways and isn't coming anywhere near my top 10 films of the year by any means, but given the first film, this mildly likable follow-up is definitely something of a surprise. A loose remake of "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House", "Are We Done Yet? sees Nick (Ice Cube) moving Suzanne (Nia Long) and her still bratty (but thankfully less seen) kids (Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden) out to the country to move into a dream house. Well, a dream house after a little bit of TLC.
The local real estate agent, Chuck Mitchell Jr. (John C. McGinley), is more than happy to sell Nick the house. When things go wrong with the house, he's also happy to fix it as the local contractor. Unfortunately for Nick, guess who the local inspector is? Yep, Chuck again, who fines Nick for not following local regulations. He makes Nick's life a nightmare, then he decides that he wants to move in with Nick.
McGinley is a fantastic actor with a remarkable resume (most recently, his phenomenal efforts on TV's "Scrubs") and he does something marvelous here: he manages to have one foot in the movie and one foot out of it at all times. McGinley's performance is over-the-top, but there's plenty of moments of the kind of underlying sarcasm that only McGinley is capable of and the actor doesn't seem to be taking things the least bit seriously - even poking fun here-and-there. McGinley's masterful delivery makes the most out of the generic material and it appears as if his screen time in the film was probably bumped up as a result. Ice Cube has been funny before, but his laid-back style is just no match for McGinley. Nia Long is stuck in a thankless role, but at least the kids are in this film much less than the first.
Aside from McGinley's genius performance, what else do we have here? Not a whole lot. This is the kind of film where Nick falls in the water and a giant CGI fish swims up to him. He screams...and so does the fish. The gags are basic slapstick and when McGinley's not on-screen, the movie falls flat. The movie builds towards a completely sappy ending, but once again, McGinley manages to get a laugh in even the most corny, cliche of situations.
"Are We Done Yet?" has some creaky jokes, a formulaic story and too much generic slapstick. However, McGinley holds the film up, making what could have been an utterly and completely forgettable comedy mildly watchable and occasionally funny.
VIDEO: "Are We Done Yet?" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This was a reasonably good transfer that offered fine sharpness and detail. While the picture never appeared crystal clear, it was at least crisp and moderately well-defined throughout. Some minor edge enhancement was spotted, but the picture otherwise remained crisp and clean throughout the show. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is purely a "comedy mix", remaining dialogue-driven throughout the running time. Surrounds get some minor involvement to present slight ambience and reinforcement of the score, but their use is not very noticable. Audio quality is fine, with a crisp score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Moderately funny blooper reel, "Chuck Mitchell: Jack of All Trades" featurette, "KIDding around on the set: Making 'Are We Done Yet?'" featurette, trailers and quiz.
Final Thoughts: "Are We Done Yet?" has some creaky jokes, a formulaic story and too much generic slapstick. However, McGinley holds the film up, making what could have been an utterly and completely forgettable comedy mildly watchable and occasionally funny. The DVD presentation offered fine audio/video quality and a few minor extras.
The Film C+